Massachusetts and Connecticut Could Be Next US States to Have Legal Online Gambling
With all the talk of California and Pennsylvania enacting online gaming laws, people have overlooked a couple of New England states which might be further along in the process. The gaming media recently has focused on the possibility of Massachusetts and Connecticut enacting Internet gaming bills, becoming the “second wave of regulation”.
When Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey legalized online gambling in 2012 and 2013, it appeared they would be the first of a wave of states to regulate the Internet market. Two years later, they remain the only 3 U.S. states with legal gambling online.
Pennsylvania Gaming Bills
Three different State Assembly members in Pennsylvania have introduced online gambling bills in recent months. State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati introduced his own competing online gaming bill this very week, so momentum is starting to build in Pennsylvania to introduce regulated online casinos and/or poker sites. The state budget needs the influx of cash, while a spokesman for the Democratic government says he is open to discussions.
California and New York
In California, a similar situation has arisen. Two Assemblymen proposed bills last year and a third one offered his legislation this year. At the present, the votes exist to start an online poker industry in California, but the legislation won’t be passed until the tribal gaming interests are no longer at loggerheads over the nature of the new laws. Factions led by the Pechanga and Morongo cannot agree on whether PokerStars should be allowed to operate in the state.
Meanwhile, New York state is still considered to be a year or two away from enacting any such laws. With Governor Andrew Cuomo taking heat for his stance on the land-based casino licensing process which licensed 3 casinos, it is unlikely a new initiative starts for a while.
Massachusetts Online Gambling
Massachusetts appears to be a good candidate to lead the next wave of iGaming expansion. In 2013 and 2014, online gambling bills were introduced. In March 2014, state officials held a day-long forum to discuss the possibilities. At the time, the state was still in the process of licensing its own brick-and-mortar gaming enterprises, including the Wynn Casino in Everett and the MGM Casino in Springfield.
Connecticut Online Gambling
In Connecticut, the legislature is considering proposals by the two large tribal gaming units–Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods–to legalize online gambling. The Indian tribes want new revenue streams and see online gambling as a logical next step.
Massachusetts and Connecticut are closely connected, at least in the offline world. The introduction of the MGM and Wynn casinos in Massachusetts mean that gamblers from Boston are much less likely to go to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. That hurts their businesses and offers the possibility that Connecicut gamblers soon could be driving across state lines to gamble in Massachusetts.
Satellite Casinos and Other Measures
To combat that, the Connecticut tribes want to build satellite casinos along the state border, to act as a firewall against such things. Towards that same end, the Mohegan and Foxwoods authorities would like online gambling.
Both tribes have already launched their own free-play gaming sites. It is legal to offer free online casino games, so each launched a website: Mohegan Sun Poker and Foxwoods Casino. Real money gambling is not legal, but both tribes realize they can build brand loyalty, collect new potential customers for their online database, and let their Internet casinos and poker sites age.
In either case, the websites are preparation for a time when Connecticut legalizes online gambling in the state. Given the desire by the Connecticut legislature to help Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods survive and flourish in the offline arena, it is only a matter of time before the online gambling revenue source is tapped.
Online Gambling Predictions
Since the US Justice Department announced in late 2011 that online casinos and poker sites were legal under federal law, experience has shown that it is next-to-impossible to predict the U.S. online gambling industry on a state level. Forbes and Morgan Stanley made predictions about the gaming market, then later had to adjust those estimates as wildly inaccurate.
At present, Morgan Stanley believes as many as a dozen US states will have legalized online gambling by the year 2020, with an approximate $2.7 billion in revenues. If that is the case, then Massachusetts and Connecticut are certain to be two of the twelve, whether they lead the pack or not. One of the big states is going to have to take the lead. When it does, then others should follow. Whether that lead state is California, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts is a matter of conjecture, but some signs point to New England.
- Connecticut Unlikely to Legalize Internet Gambling in 2019
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- Online Gambling Unlikely in Connecticut Special Session
- No Online Poker for Connecticut in 2018
- Connecticut Chaos Hurts Online Gaming Chances
- Foxwoods Speaks Strongly for Connecticut Online Gaming
- Connecticut Could Be an Online Poker Contender