Panel's recommendation could pave way for legal Massachusetts online poker, casinos in 2018

Report: Massachusetts Online Gambling Likely To Get Green Light From Special Commission

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A special commission in Massachusetts is poised to recommend an omnibus approach to regulation of the online gambling industry, according to Statehouse News Service, which could pave the way for iGaming in the state.

New in Massachusetts on online gambling

The Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports met on Tuesday. Last year, the legislature created the panel and tasked it with generating a report about the industries in its name. (Online gambling is currently illegal in the state, while paid-entry fantasy sports is legal and regulated.)

According to Statehouse News, “most commission members who shared their points of view Tuesday indicated that they would favor the omnibus approach,” to iGaming. That included Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, Sen. Jennifer Flanagan and a representative of Senate Minority Leader Brice Tarr,

The backstory on Massachusetts online gambling

The state’s gaming commission has advocated that a nimble regulatory approach — allowing it to tackle online gambling of all forms — was in the best interest of the state and its casinos moving forward.

A bill to legalize online poker and gambling in the state surfaced earlier this year but hasn’t gained much traction. Enacting a new law this year was always a longshot, however, while the special commission was meeting.

But a positive recommendation on online gambling from the commission would be a step ahead for the prospects of iGaming.

Part of the dynamic is that the state has created special regulations just for the daily fantasy sports industry, apart from any other form of gaming. (Those were instituted by Attorney General Maura Healey and given a greater force of law by the state legislature and governor later last year.)

The state gaming commission has argued that legislating new forms of gaming when they come up — like DFS — is inefficient. The state would be better served by giving broader regulatory powers to the commission.

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Report coming soon on MA iGaming

The special commission’s report is due by July 31.

The report and any action are too late to help the prospects of online gambling regulation in 2017. But it sets the state up for what should be a very serious push to legalize iGaming in 2018.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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