Nevada, New Jersey, and, to a lesser extent, California and Pennsylvania. These are the most common states that come up when discussing online poker and gambling in the United States. But starting in late 2015 and early 2016, a new name has come up: Massachusetts.
Online poker legislation is not news in Massachusetts, but some legislation has been introduced that finally has a chance of being passed. It wasn’t until December, after a pretty quiet year of online poker discussion in the state, that State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr introduced a new online gambling bill.
Where other attempts in the past were rejected by the state legislature, this new bill is a much larger overhaul of the state’s entire gambling sector. This was mainly in response to competition from neighboring states New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
(As a side note, New Jersey has been in the news not only for online gambling, but also the legalization of sports betting in that state. While online poker legislation is being handled on a state basis, the legalization of gambling on sports is now a federal issue, with only a few states having legalized it and only one (Nevada) allowing for sportsbook betting.)
The goal in Massachusetts will be to regulate e-sports such as Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), as well as online poker and everything else that falls under the umbrella of “electronic gaming technologies.” In addition, the Massachusetts Lottery is in the process of gathering information about an online lottery, with a deadline for responses set for February 26, 2016.
With California and Pennsylvania already likely to move ahead with online poker regulations, other states will soon jump into the fray. It may not happen in 2016 in Massachusetts, but the trend throughout the United States is towards opening online gaming to more and more consumers. The latest state to keep an eye on is Massachusetts, which, after several years of failed legislation attempts, may finally be ready to establish online poker in the state.