Massachusetts Online Poker Laws

Massachusetts Online Poker Law

When it comes to online poker legalization, states’ statuses fall into several different categories: did it, trying to do it, in the process of looking at it, and probably never will do it.

Thanks to a few elected officials, Massachusetts falls into the “trying to do it” category, and the history of its legislators trying to get online poker done goes back to 2011.

An online poker bill was even attached to the 2014 state budget bill, but alas, was stripped out at the last minute. It certainly will be explored again in 2014, for the 2015 budget year.

Unlike other states that are considering online poker and casino gambling, Massachusetts is determined to include its state lottery commission in whatever bill moves forward.

One of the reasons statewide online poker and casinos will go through the state lottery system is because of how Massachusetts determines where live casinos are allowed. Voters in the towns where proposed casinos are to be built are in control of this process. Instead of entire counties or the state voting, decisions are made city by city, town by town, and each casino pays a different amount negotiated by each town.

How this will all shake out at a statewide level, which online poker requires, is tough to predict.

In fact — and this is most certainly liable to change — when passed, players may have to make deposits through lottery kiosks or the lottery site, with an instant 5 percent fee so that the lottery doesn’t lose any money when online poker and online casino gambling goes live.

Massachusetts is a newcomer to the casino gaming industry. In 2011, the governor signed a bill allowed three large casino properties to open in the state. It was in this same year that a proposed bill that would have allowed intrastate online poker and gambling was considered, but didn’t even get a sniff at a vote.

Further optimism should be given to the fact that previous bills had bipartisan support, unlike some of the more conservative states where political lines are drawn between moral issues.

When Can I Play Online Poker in Massachusetts?

Online poker advocates should remain optimistically cautious when trying to pick a future date when online poker will go live in Massachusetts. While its been on state legislators radar since 2011, which gives it a little bit of momentum, online poker industry insiders still say there’s not enough support get it passed in 2014.

Look to 2015 as the nearest-possible year online poker will be legalized in Massachusetts, but probably beyond even that. Also, there’s a chance Massachusetts will contract with other states and join an intrastate online poker network, as was proposed in 2011, before such a thing even existed.

How Big is Massachusetts’s Potential Online Poker Market?

Despite being one of the smaller states, geographically, Massachusetts is the 14th most populous state. About 4.5 million people who are 21 and older live in Massachusetts, meaning there are about 400,000 potential online poker players currently without a game.