Massachusetts Senate takes online gambling off the budget debate

News on 20 Jun 2014

Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Rush’s attempt to insert an online gambling amendment into the current budgetary debate in the state Senate (see previous reports) has failed.

The Senate dropped the amendment, which sought to give the state lottery approval to extend its operation into some forms of online gambling.

The removal of the amendment, which authorised the lottery commission to “…implement online games of skill, including, but not limited to, fantasy sports, so-called, poker, so-called, and other games of skill”, is a serious blow to any progress on online gambling legalisation in the populous eastern state, at least for 2014.

Expanding into online gambling to compete with other Eastern states like New Jersey and Delaware has been strongly supported by influential figures like Massachusetts Treasurer Steve Grossman, but it has been fiercely opposed by equally influential politicians like Martha Coakley, and has become something of an issue in gubernatorial election debates.

Sen. Rush’s attempt is one of several attempted by pro-online gambling state politicians over the past 18 months, but these have all been frustrated by lack of support, despite recent and seemingly positive legislative hearings on the topic (see previous reports).

A more cautious “wait and see” approach appears to dominate political thinking when it comes to expansion into internet gambling, although there is clearly a willingness to issue land casino licensing.

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