Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

Massachusetts Online Gaming Study Commission Created

 Massachusetts Online Gaming Study Commission Created

Last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted unanimously (four to nil) to create a panel to study online gaming and daily fantasy sports. The special commission will be headed by the chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, Sen. Eileen Donoghue and Rep. Joseph Wagner, and will have its first meeting no later than November 1st.

The other members of the committee include MGC chair Steve Crosby, an appointee from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey with fantasy sports consumer protection experience, an appointee from Governor Charlie Baker with fantasy sports industry experience, and appointees by the state’s legislative leadership: Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Minority Leader Brad Jones.

A final report is due by July 31st, 2017, and while it will be about most forms of online gambling, it is not allowed to include anything about the lottery, online or not.

Addressing the attendees of an MGC meeting, Crosby said of the study, “Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for us to continue…the initiative that we’ve made about trying to come up with some omnibus legislation that will give the Legislature and then probably the Gaming Commission the tools to regulate all of online gaming.”

The omnibus approach to which Crosby refers is possible legislation that would legalize and regulate virtually all forms of online gambling at once, including poker, daily fantasy sports, casino gaming, and lottery. In December, he said:

If they could craft a bill, which incorporated regulatory priorities, fundamental values, whatever, that could be applied to all of these games – e-sports, [daily fantasy sports], online poker, whatever all the new ones are – maybe then they could give it to some agency to implement, and the agency does the grunt work every six months making it apply to whatever the new technology is.

The point, really, of the omnibus approach is to just get it all done. States have legalized online poker, online lottery, casino games, and daily fantasy sports, but aside from New Jersey and Delaware legalizing poker and casino, no state has done more than one. This writer has always thought that was stupid (hell, I think it should all be legalized on a federal level), as it implies that somehow one form of online gambling is cool and worth legalizing, while the others are not. Besides, it just makes things more of a pain in the ass if lawmakers want to go ahead and regulate other games later. You have to do everything all over again. Crosby and the MGC seem to understand this and want to get ahead of the curve (which isn’t saying much, considering how flat that curve is).

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed final regulations for daily fantasy in March. DFS isn’t officially, explicitly legal, as legislation has not been passed to make it so, but by filing those regulations Healey effectively legalized the games in the state, requiring that sites abide by them.

DFS industry leader DraftKings is based in Massachusetts.

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Massachusetts AG Files DFS Regulations

 Massachusetts AG Files DFS Regulations

On Friday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed her final regulations for the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry in her state, making it the third state to implement DFS regulations. All three have happened very recently, with both of the others – Virginia and Indiana – passing their regulations this month.

Healey initially proposed DFS regulations back in November and little has changed between then and now. In a press release at the time, words she nearly mimicked in a press conference, she said:

These regulations are a first of their kind for the Daily Fantasy Sports industry, and they focus on protecting minors, ensuring truthful advertising, bringing more transparency to the industry, and leveling the playing field for all consumers,” AG Healey said. “This is a first step, but an important step, as we continue to evaluate this new industry and make sure our laws keep up with these evolving technologies.

As one would expect, the regulations include extensive language intended to protect minors. Nobody under the age of 21 is permitted to participate on a daily fantasy sports site; if a minor is found to be registered, his funds will be returned and his account will be closed. The minor could actually receive winnings, though, if it was determined that he simply registered as himself and wasn’t found out. If he misrepresented his age, though, his winnings will be taken away and given to another contestant.

Additionally, DFS contests are not allowed to be based on amateur sports such as college and high school sporting events. DFS operators cannot advertise at schools or colleges, either.

The regulations also aim to promote a fair game, one in which “highly experienced” players are easily identifiable by all players (denoted by an icon in the software) and that these players are not permitted to participate in games reserved for beginners. In addition, to prevent deep pocketed professionals from overwhelming tournaments, there are limits placed on how many entries a player can make in a given contest. For example, in a contest with more than 100 players, players are limited to 150 entries or 3 percent of all entries, whichever number is smaller.

And, of course, the regulations are intended to protect all customers of DFS sites. Player deposits are to be segregated from operational funds and credit cannot be extended to players. Individual player deposits are capped at $ 1,000 per month, but the DFS sites do have leeway to increase that on a case-by-case basis. Operators must also allow players to self-exclude or put restrictions on their own play.

Operators are required to be in compliance with these regulations by July 1st.

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Massachusetts Lottery Considering Non-Lottery Online Games

 Massachusetts Lottery Considering Non Lottery Online Games

It looks like the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission (MSLC) may be taking the “if you can’t be ‘em, join ‘em” stance when it comes to online gaming. In late December, the MSLC issued a Request for Information (RFI), inviting (preferably) qualified companies to submit proposals with ideas for how the Lottery can increase its presence in the online gaming space.

The summary of the RFI is as follows:

The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission (“MSLC”) is issuing this Request for Information to solicit information regarding the possible purchase of adaptable software or the purchase of customized software/systems for electronically expanding offerings by the MSLC. MSLC seeks to receive information about potential iLottery systems and/or software, the implementation of new game offerings through online and/or mobile venues, gaming systems that allow for cross-pollination between online applications and physical retailer space and any other progressive gaming opportunities that may be available.

The “new game offerings” would not necessarily be limited to lottery games.

“We believe the introduction of a fantasy sports platform at Mass. Lottery would help to embrace an emerging market while continuing to protect our retail partners,” Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney told the State House News Service. “This particular type of game would not cannibalize our existing products. It would obviously be a new product. It would help us to engage what we would refer to as a ‘next-generation’ player and hopefully it would also help Lottery to create a new revenue source as opposed to eroding or maintaining existing offers.”

The RFI does not specifically mention online poker, but it does not rule it out, saying that respondents are encouraged to suggest anything, even if it is not “expressly covered by direct inquiries made within this RFI.”

Though as poker enthusiasts, we certainly take issue with the lottery as a state-encouraged form of gambling, it is a bit refreshing to hear someone involved with the lottery actually make reasonable statements about other forms of gambling. The MetroWest Daily News reported that MSLC Treasurer Deborah Goldberg thought a lottery-run fantasy sports site would be a good idea, as it would attract a new demographic to the MSLC’s offerings. As she said, the core audience of fantasy sports are technologically-savvy 25-to-45-year-old males “who are not Lottery players (and) who are extremely excited by sports-related fantasies.”

Out of touch lottery executives are often opposed to online poker because they are afraid that if people can play poker on the internet from home, they won’t venture out to the local convenience stores to buy lottery tickets (which reminds me: Powerball is at $ 400 million this week – maybe I should actually spend a buck on a ticket). What they fail to realize is that there is little overlap between lottery players and poker players. Goldberg seems to understand this, though in regards to fantasy sports.

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