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Massachusetts Considers Online Gambling

25 February 2012 by Devon Chappell

Massachusetts State Treasurer, Steven Grossman has brought together a collection of experts to study the effects of a possible move towards legalizing online gambling.  To date, no US state has initiated such a program – but with recent statements from the Department of Justice indicating a tolerance for state-by-state legalization, many states in addition to Mass. are considering online gambling programs of their own.

Grossman, who already runs the commonwealth’s lottery program, has placed an emphasis on video poker games as one of the potential offerings that his commission should consider.  “I think we’ve got an obligation to the people of the commonwealth to study the whole basket of Internet gaming options — including online poker,” Grossman told reporters.

While poker fans will certainly hope that the commission advocates a program that includes online poker, a more conservative first step could simply be taking the lottery online.  One could easily imagine the sate offering virtual scratch-off lottery tickets to get the ball rolling.  Of course, a more expansive program would include licensing online casinos to operate legally within the state.

Proponents of Grossman initiating an online gambling program point to the increase in tax revenue that would be generated.  In addition to tax income, regulation seems to pop up consistently in the pros column when online gambling programs are discussed.  Everyone agrees that US citizens are participating in online gambling already via foreign online casinos – with legalization the state could protect gamers by regulating all casinos that receive a license to operate.

If Grossman’s commission experts are serious about studying the potential benefits and drawbacks to Massachusetts legalizing online gambling, they will certainly look towards Europe for examples of such programs.  Countries like France and Italy already have their own online gambling programs, and Spain has recently announced that it will begin awarding online casino licenses in the coming months.

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