Massachusetts Senators Plan for Online Poker in Budget Bill

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Online poker is back on the legislative agenda in Massachusetts.

After getting the last-minute axe from the Massachusetts House budget back in late April, it appears that online poker regulation could hitch a ride on the Senate budget.

According to a report in the Taunton Daily Gazette, a group of Senate Republicans are planning to introduce an amendment that would allow for a total of four online gambling licenses (reserved for MA’s licensed land-based operators):

I haven’t seen a copy of the amendment yet, but based on the TDG report it does differ from the online poker proposal floated in the Massachusetts House:

Under the amendment, online gaming revenue would be taxed at 20 percent and licensees would pay an initial fee of not less than $300,000 and an annual renewal fee of not less than $150,000.  The proposal also specifies that licensees could not offer any online game in conflict with the state Lottery, that players be 21 or older to place wagers or collect winnings, and that players be physically located in Massachusetts to place wagers or collect winnings, with certain exceptions.

The current budget process is for FY2014, which begins July 1st in Massachusetts.

The next step in the process is a formal Senate budget, followed by a joint House-Senate committee that will iron out the differences between the two budgets.

The resulting bill heads back for another vote  in the House and Senate, and then to the Governor’s desk.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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