New bill also deals with daily fantasy sports and sports betting in Massachusetts

Online Gambling In Massachusetts? Lawmaker Introduces Omnibus Gaming Legislation

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New legislation introduced by Massachusetts state Sen. Eileen Donoghue seeks to regulate online gambling, daily fantasy sports and create a commission to study online sports betting in the commonwealth should New Jersey prevail in its US Supreme Court case.

Donoghue is well-versed on the subject, having co-chaired the Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports that studied these issues and submitted its findings last year.

The legislation is now in the Joint Committee on Rules.

DFS is the main course

Massachusetts legalized DFS back in 2016, but imposed a set of temporary regulations that are set to sunset on July 31 of this year.

Donoghue’s bill, S 2480, creates permanent regulations for DFS.

The bill would require:

  • Existing operators to make a one-time payment equal to the lesser of $100,000 or one and one-half percent of the gross revenue generated by the registrant in the previous calendar year.
  • New operators (no revenue in the previous year) to pay an initial registration of $50,000.
  • Any registered game operator to pay a tax of 15 percent on gross revenue.

More on DFS and sports betting in the bill over at Legal Sports Report.

What else might the bill authorize?

The bill reads like typical DFS legislation, with one notable exception. The definition of “Online Game” in the bill is as follows:

 “a game, including DFS, offered through the internet or through other communications technology that allows a person utilizing money or currency of any kind to transmit information to (i) risk something of value, (ii) on the outcome of an event, (iii) with an opportunity to win a prize. “

That definition looks an awful lot like the definition of gambling Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby favors.

In a 2016 interview, Crosby said gambling should be defined as “something along the lines of purchasing an opportunity to win an award on a future event.” Anything that meets those three criteria can and should be regulated as gambling. Those are essentially the same three criteria Donoghue’s legislation lays out.

The definition also lines up with the Special Commission’s recommendations from last year:

“At this time, the Special Commission recommends legalizing DFS as a subset of online gaming and enacting legislation that would put into law the proposed regulatory, governance, and taxation system described above.”

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The door would be open in Massachusetts…

Of course, the definition’s use of “including DFS” and generalized language about what constitutes online gaming leaves the door wide open for a broader reading of the legislation. As a result, it could authorize many forms of online gaming down the road, including online poker, casino games and beyond.

The loose definition is somewhat surprising considering the Special Commission recommended the state abstain from legalizing other forms of online gaming (poker and casino) until the state’s casinos are open for business.

Online Poker Report will have further reporting as more details come to light.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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