In Massachusetts, a special state commission studying the possibility of legalizing online gambling met last week and could soon reportedly recommend an all-inclusive approach to the industry in the future.
According to a report from the local The Sun newspaper citing a story from the Statehouse News Service, the Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports held a public hearing on June 6 to take the temperature of its members and the group is now set to make its final recommendations by July 31.
“There are three options I think that we will look at,” Joseph Wagner, a Democratic member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Co-Chairman for the group, reportedly told the Statehouse News Service after the hearing. “There’s the gaming option, a type of structure where we have a separate law that would govern this, the omnibus approach, which is where we would give some authority some authority to oversee all of this, or to just simply let it play out for some time or more going forward.”
Massachusetts passed an economic development measure last year that legalized “fantasy contests” but this authorization is set to expire on the final day of July. The same legislation also established the Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sport Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports to come up with the best solution moving forward while additionally investigating the possibility of authorizing eSports.
“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,” Stephen Crosby, Chairman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, reportedly told the Statehouse News Service.
Crosby reportedly stated that he favors a “broad brushed” approach that is “very clear in terms of values and parameters and regulatory criteria” and that it “makes a lot of sense” for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to be selected as the state agency charged with overseeing future online gambling in the eastern state.
“Though if it goes to somebody else it’s totally fine with us [as] we’re not invested in it one way or another,” Crosby reportedly told the Statehouse News Service. “Then give that agency really clear parameters of protection, what needs to be attended to for all these new gambling processes online, give them the ability to regulate and with the nimbleness and speed that is required.”
The hearing moreover reportedly saw Massachusetts State Senator Jennifer Flanagan agree with Crosby that “a very broad approach to this would be best” while Hirak Shah, who represents Massachusetts State Senate minority leader Bruce Tarr, explained that the Republican would also likely consent to a wide-ranging attitude so as not to stifle the new industry.
Crosby additionally reportedly declared that land-based casino operators already licensed in Massachusetts, which includes giants MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Limited, should be preferred when it comes to the licensing of online casinos.
“If there is going to be a major change in the gaming world, the bricks-and-mortar people have to be attended to,” Crosby reportedly told the Statehouse News Service. “Wynn [Resorts Limited] is putting down $2.4 billion, MGM [Resorts International] is putting in $1 billion and their economic interests, just to be fair, should be seriously considered. Probably, we would think that online casino gaming, and we’ve got a definitional problem here, online casino gaming probably should be anchored in the bricks-and-mortar casinos.”