Massachusetts Poised to Add Online Gambling Proposal

Online GamblingMassachusetts Poised to Add Online Gambling Proposal to 2014 Budget Plan

The Massachusetts Senate Republican four-member group will introduce a proposal to regulate online gambling, as amendment to the 2014-budget plan prepared by the Senate Democrats.

The Senate GOP’s amendment comes after 18 members of the House of Representatives failed to push a similar proposal as attachment to the 2014 budget plan version of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Considering the past failure of previous online gambling proposals to make it as an addendum to the 2011 casino legalization bill and as a standalone bill in 2012, with more than 700 other amendments added to the Senate’s budget plan, will the Senate GOP’s action to regulate online gambling pass muster on Wednesday, when the senators commence with their deliberations?

Supporters of the movement are hopeful that it will, since both the House and the Senate are proposing only a moderate tax hike of $500 million, while the spending plan will escalate from a previous $31.7 billion to $33.9 billion. Even the University of Massachusetts pointed out that the Senate’s current version of the budget plan does not include sufficient funding.

Although the approved land-based casinos will not see action until 2016, the 2014 budget amendment includes making licenses available to the three casinos authorized by the state. Other recommendations include collecting initial online gaming fees of $300,000 and $150,000 as annual renewal fees, while online gaming revenues will be taxed at 20 percent.

To allay fears that online gaming will pose as threat to the future of Massachusetts State Lottery, another amendment prohibits online operators to offer services and facilities that will compete with the state lottery.