Yesterday, the Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports held a meeting in order to discuss the future of online gambling in the state. So far, a number of bills have been introduced but unfortunately failed to find progress.
The Commission, which was created last year, had the responsibility of reviewing and considering all online gambling aspects. Currently, online gambling is not legal in the state of Massachusetts, except for Daily Fantasy Sports, which have been made legal until July 31st 2018 with the passage of an economic development bill in 2016. So, Massachusetts officials met yesterday in order to discuss eventual changes of the current status quo, making the iGaming sector legal on the territory of the state.
The proposed bill, called SD 618 was introduced earlier in 2017. What is found as its biggest disadvantage is the fact that the two-page bill does not contain any specific details about licensing procedures. The proposed piece of legislation also lacked information about future iGaming regulation and taxation. Having all this in mind, it was no surprise that the bill has not moved forward until now.
The nine-member Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports recommended a more global approach to regulating the industry. At yesterday’s hearing, most members voted in favour of iGaming legislation. The vote would also grant the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) with the right to closely monitor and regulate new products in the local market.
As there was no progress with the online gambling bill in Massachusetts, the Special Commission aimed at bringing new life to the iGaming proposals debate. That was also the reason why the Commission offered an omnibus approach to be applied in terms of iGaming legislation and regulatory issues.
The Co-Chairs of the Commission have asked for each member to make individual recommendations and submit the latter by June 16th. Then, another public hearing is planned to be held in order for the recommendations to be reviewed and discussed. This needs to happen before the end of July.
The bad news is that the entire process will take some time for the recommendations to be submitted, and by the time this happens, there may not be much time left for the local legislature to act until the end of its 2017 session. Time is literally ticking away for local officials in order to take measures and finally do something about iGaming legislation in the state. Otherwise, they would be forced to wait until 2018 to make another step towards online gambling regulation.
The MGC Chairman Steve Crosby commented on the latest discussions, saying that he would like to see a more detailed piece of legislation. According to him, it should provide clear regulatory criteria, as well as more precise parameters. Senator Jennifer Flanagan, who is also one of the Special Commission’s members, explained that a “very broad approach” could turn out to be exactly what the state Massachusetts needs in terms of online gambling legislation.