The chances of Massachusetts legalising online gambling, once very bright, have dimmed to almost nothing this year. Although, there are chances that the issue might be revived in the Legislature the next year. Senate President Stan Rosenberg admitted during an interview that the state was not in a position to regulate online gaming, or even lotteries, this year.
There has been a concerted effort in the state to get an online gambling law off the ground but many lawmakers have begun to drag their feet on it because of fears that it will harm the state’s land-based gambling industry.
Supporters of online gambling give New Jersey as an example since the Garden State’s once floundering casino’s in Atlantic City have now begun to do well after they got involved in online gambling. New Jersey had legalized online gambling towards the end of 2013 and while this business has expanded steadily since then, it has also managed to revive its flagging land based counterpart.
There is a last ditch effort by the pro-gambling lobby in the form of the Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports which is expected to submit a report to the legislature on July 31st. However, it doesn’t seem likely that this will have any impact on the current mood of lawmakers.
Online Massachusetts Gambling Lobby Unhappy
It goes without saying that supporters of online gambling are quite unhappy with the lack of progress on this issue. State Treasurer Deb Goldberg is one of the most vocal supporters of online gambling. He pointed out that the state has lost a tremendous opportunity by not legalising this industry. There is a great deal of revenue to be earned from this industry, and failing to pass a gambling bill in 2017 would just deprive the state of much-needed revenues.
Anthony Salvidio, the state’s Lottery Commissioner fears that lottery is also losing out on revenues. The main reason is because it is not available on the internet. Therefore, lawmakers feel that they are only protecting the land based gambling industry by restricting online operators. But in reality, they are actually doing it great harm. Goldberg maintains that the state needs to legalise online lottery. It needs to do it before it can address the issues of online casinos and poker.
Cannibalisation Not an Issue in Massachusetts
The detractors of online gambling tend to harp about the dangers posed by it to land based casinos. But the facts tend to state otherwise. As a matter of fact, it is also very unlikely that online casinos will cannibalize the land based lottery industry. Owing to the event that the former is legalised and not the latter. This is because there is hardly an overlap between the markets of the two verticals.
There is indeed a certain amount of money being diverted from land-based gambling establishments to online ones. This is because each gambler, after all, has only a limited amount of money to spend on gambling. However, large scale cannibalization is rarely an issue because the market is large enough to support both types.
Online casinos have been very successful at attracting new customers, especially ones who do not visit land-based casinos at all. Many people feel hesitant about stepping into land based casinos for a number of reasons. They feel quite comfortable about visiting online casinos thanks to the anonymity and convenience offered by it.
One thing remains to be seen for sure! Whether the pro online gambling lobby will be able to provide facts and figures to convince their detractors in 2018 at least or if not in 2017. The state stands to benefit tremendously from this in the form of high tax revenues.