The state of Massachusetts has plans to legalise online lottery services this year in a bid to increase the competitiveness of its gambling industry. At present, very few other states in the US offer online lotteries but this is increasingly being seen as a requirement for growth. The online lottery business in the state is currently worth $1 billion but it needs to be available online in order to keep pace with the changing needs of customers.
While Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has said that she plans to introduce legislation to make this happen, the online casino lobby will have no reason to rejoice since the new law will not have any bearing on their legal status. The state has instituted a Special Commission to study the online casino and table games industries but it will not deliver its results until August this year.
Goldberg said that while the state had the maximum Keno sales in the United States, the business had very little potential for growth, the market having reached saturation point. Besides, it was under pressure from daily fantasy sports and the widespread preference to gamble online rather than at land-based establishments. Furthermore, the upcoming launch of two casinos in the state would eat into the market for lotteries.
At present, the only place in the state where one can gamble is the Plainridge Park Casino but it doesn’t have any games apart from slots. This casino has been in operation since June 2015 after a referendum in 2012 made Las Vegas-style gambling legal. Its operators feel that the state shouldn’t aggressively pursue online gambling because it will have a negative effect on the nascent land-based casino industry. Lance George, a senior manager of the casino, said that the legislature would have to proceed cautiously on this issue because many local jobs were at stake.
Voters in the state had voted against permitting another slots casino in the state during a referendum in November. Plainridge Park Casino would certainly consider it a victory considering that it stands opposed to any business that will reduce its revenues. Many voters are opposed to permitting online gambling because they feel that its easy accessibility will lead to gambling addiction and other problems. The state’s Attorney General Maura Healey is firmly against legalizing online gambling and she will certainly do her best to oppose any legislation that is introduced to this effect.
Construction has commenced on the Wynn Boston Harbor resort, a $2.1 billion project located just outside Downtown Boston. The casino will have one of the biggest poker rooms in the country. The MGM Springfield project, worth $1 billion, is scheduled to open next year. There are also casinos in Connecticut and Rhode Island that are expected to take business away from Plainridge Park Casino.
It will take a long time for online gambling to become legal throughout the country since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) makes it illegal for financial institutions to allow money transfers to these sites. Till then most Americans will not be able to go online to enjoy games like Return of the Phoenix slots. This is a fabulously entertaining game from Gamesys that gives out good wins and it is very popular in many online casinos. Return of the Phoenix and other slots are available at a large number of gaming sites, most of which do not accept American customers for fear of legal repercussions. It is definitely going to be an uphill task to make casino and table games available online to all Americans, but it might just happen in the future.