[toc]When the year began, Massachusetts seemed to be one of the states most likely to advance online gambling or online lottery legislation. The year is not even halfway over, but the word from Boston is both causes are almost certainly not moving forward this year.
Senate President tells online gaming better luck next year
The bad news comes straight from the state’s Senate President Stan Rosenberg. Statehouse News (paywall) reported Rosenberg said in a radio interview the issues will almost certainly not be addressed this year.
He did concede online gaming could be on the table for discussion in 2018. However, Rosenberg said the state needs to be certain both online lotteries and online casinos do not jeopardize their land-based counterparts:
“Online lottery and online gaming are both issues that are being reviewed now to try to figure out how we manage the situation so we don’t hurt the lottery, and in the case of online gaming, that we don’t hurt the casino industry we’re building in Massachusetts.”
Cannibalization of land-based casinos again a concern
Online gambling proponents certainly hate hearing about fears of cannibalization. After all, in New Jersey online casinos clearly benefit their brick and mortar counterparts. So much so, operators are lining up to try and obtain a license.
As for online lottery, Michigan is a great example of how online and land-based lottery work hand-in-hand.
The one brick and mortar casino in the state does think cannibalization could be a problem, unfortunately. Earlier this year, Plainridge Park urged lawmakers to approach online gambling with caution. General Manager Lance George said:
“It’s very important for the Legislature to be rigorous in its evaluation of any policy change that affects job and revenue creation in industries that operate brick-and-mortar facilities and even more so when those industries are new to the commonwealth.”
On the other hand, MGM Resorts, which is in the process of building MGM Springfield, is a proponent of online gambling. In fact, the company just announced the launch of playMGM online poker and casino in New Jersey.
Meanwhile, Wynn Resorts, who is also building a Massachusetts casino, recently said it would not stop online gambling legislation from passing.
So where does online gambling progress stand in MA?
Last year, the state passed a daily fantasy sports (DFS) bill into law. This indicates lawmakers are willing to move forward on gambling expansion.
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg is an ardent supporter of online lotteries. She advocated to The Sun Chronicle why such expansion is necessary:
“Between the impending arrival of casinos, increasing competition from daily fantasy sports, the overall shift to online versus point-of-sale transactions, and our aging Lottery demographic, we have no choice but to pursue new solutions.”
In reality though, the pursuit of online lottery regressed in 2017. Last year, the state legislature passed a bill in the Senate authorizing online lotto sales. It then went on to fail in the House.
So far this year, there has been no progress on the online lottery front. A bill was introduced, only to go nowhere so far.
Rosenberg’s recent statements indicate neither bill is going anywhere. The lone glimmer of hope is that 2018 will be the year the legislature takes the two ideas seriously.