MA Special Commission Meets to Begin Online Gambling & DFS Discussions

by Kyle Miller

Maura Healey, Attorney General, MassachusettsMonday saw the first meeting of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports take place with lawmakers and members of the commission on hand.

A new panel has been created in the state of Massachusetts to study the online gaming industry as well as fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports. A bill regarding daily fantasy sports was passed into law back in August and included regulations created by the state Attorney General Maura Healey. The regulations are a temporary solutions that operators are to follow until permanent regulations can be created.

When this bill was passed, it included legislation that would see a special commission created to recommend what regulations should be adopted permanently in the DFS industry as well as online gaming. This could end up seeing the state pass legislation in regards to other forms of online gaming by 2017. The Commission has until the 31st of next year to present their findings with recommendation son what legislature should do in regards to DFS as well as online gaming. State Senator Eileen Donoghue is one of the chairpersons on the committee who has stated the group plans to meet every four to six weeks until they are done with their review.

Tasks the Panel will Undertake

There are several issues that will be discussed in regards to online gambling as well as fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports. The panel will be covering such topics as consumer protections, taxation, economic development, implications in regards to already existing forms of gaming in the state and legal/regulatory structures. The state will be looking to figure out what they can do in regards to these categories as well as how other states operate to be able to make the right decisions on what regulations should be put in place.

DFS is the Priority, but Online Gambling is Included

While the state is focused on daily fantasy sports betting at the moment, they are also going to take a look at online gambling as well. Regulations will need to be created for DFS to be able to operate away from the regulations in place that are not permanent. Permanency and clarity need to be created to ensure the industry is a success in the state.

During the meeting, it was stated that the standing of DFS operations was codified statutorily with operations set as legal entities but a sunset provision was in place. The work of commission is to create something that will provide guidance moving forward as the temporary regulations will expire on the 31st of July in 2018.

It is most likely that the attorney general’s regulations will be used as a foundation with tweaks as needed. Legislators felt that the regulations created by Healey are considered both fair and robust. In regards to online gambling, the path is not clear. It has not been stated as to if the Commission might be hoping that all online games will be placed in one grouping and offer players all options for entertainment.

According to Chairman Crosby, this is the time to use online gambling and daily fantasy sports, since they overlap, to deal with both issues at one time. However, it can be expected that any recommendations by the panel will be scrutinized by lawmakers and met with skepticism.

Massachusetts has quickly became a state that is serious contention to becoming the next in the US to offer online gaming. However, the process is slow going. Yet the state is steadily enjoying a nice expansion of gaming including two destination casinos being constructed, one set to open in 2018 and one in 2019. The online lottery is being considered with sales as well as additional gaming expansions under consideration.

For now, the commission will begin their study and come up with their findings in future months, at the latest by July of next year.