MA Commission Recommends Omnibus Approach To Online Gambling

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A special legislative committee in Massachusetts has recommended that an omnibus approach be adopted for the overall regulation of the online gaming industry in the state. The Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports has agreed in its most recent meeting that a broad brush style of regulation of the gaming industry was the most suitable.

The Special Commission had been tasked with the responsibility of recommending if online gaming could be legalized in the state.

Under the omnibus approach, all forms of gambling would be legalized and a comprehensive framework of regulations would be developed and rolled out. The gaming regulations would be kept flexible enough to accommodate newer forms of gambling as they were rolled out.

The idea was first mooted by Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby who stated that this approach helps eliminating debates on what is gambling and what isn’t.

In a statement Crosby said,

Our view is that the Legislature’s job is to determine whether or not we want gambling online to be legal, and if the answer to that is yes, which it sort of presumptively appears to be, then come up with a regulatory environment that can deal with all of these things as they come down the pike and not have to try to be in a reactive mode

Individual Commission members are supposed to submit their positions by July 16 after which a public hearing will be held. The Commission will then submit its report to the legislature before the July 31 deadline. It is not likely that the Massachusetts legislative houses will clear the online gaming bill in this session but it is expected that a clear recommendation from the committee will give the process a boost.

The proposal to legalize online gaming in the state has seen slow progress with a recently introduced bill seeing little movement. Senate President Stan Rosenberg has said that lawmakers are carefully considering the proposal but pointed out that there was widespread concern about expanding gambling soon after the introduction of brick-and- mortar casinos in the state.

Massachusetts legalized gambling in 2011 allowing for three full-scale casino resorts to be developed along with one slots parlor. So far licenses have been allotted to Wynn Resorts which is building a casino in Everett and to MGM Resorts International which is developing a casino in Springfield. A slots-only parlor Plainridge Park Casino opened in Plainville in 2015.

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