Massachusetts Online Poker
The Bay State motto says ‘By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty’ – whether Massachusetts attains peace in its online poker landscape remains to be seen, but the good news is that it is legal for you to play online poker in Massachusetts. As with much of the United States’ East Coast, there is no law pertaining directly to online poker, and without any ban on the activity there is no reason to suspect Bay Staters shouldn’t be absolutely fine indulging in the nation’s favorite pastime from the comfort of their own home.
With nearby New Jersey becoming one of the first states to license legal poker sites within its borders, Massachusetts has made some effort to do the same. Bills have been introduced, but all have found enough opposition to prevent them being passed into law.
That is not to say there have not been some potential setbacks. Back in 2010, it took significant lobbying from the Poker Players Alliance to ensure a law potentially outlawing online poker failed to gather the necessary traction, and this PPA support suggests the lobby group sees the Bay State as somewhere that could ultimately prove very welcoming for online poker players in America.
The state has a population of just under seven million, lower than New Jersey but higher than Nevada and Delaware, both of which have legal poker sites in operation. In addition, the average household income in the Bay State is among the highest in the USA, suggesting there is potential for online poker to help generate tax revenue. Representative Dan Winslow has been one of the most vocal supporters of regulated online poker within the state’s borders, while Barney Frank, another Massachusetts representative, has supported the activity at a federal level.
Why did Barney Frank push for federal rather than intrastate regulation?
Rep. Frank may well have believed that a federal online poker bill could be more beneficial to the state of Massachusetts than an in-state bill. Federal online poker licenses would potentially see legal poker sites able to serve the whole country, leading to a significantly higher player pool and generally better games. As someone with an interest in poker, he probably knows the value in high-traffic sites and the ability to find an online poker game running at all hours.
Will the legalization of casinos help the online poker push?
There is certainly a decent chance of this being the case – arguments against all forms of gambling will potentially disappear from the agenda now that legal online poker would be in addition to other regulated land based gambling activities. However some may make the argument that online poker could take revenue away from the new land-based venues.
Could the success of online gambling elsewhere help Massachusetts?
While Massachusetts does not have the same bricks and mortar gambling history as certain other states, the success of legal poker sites in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware could well convince lawmakers in the Bay State that regulating the activity could be a good money-maker.
Has anyone in Massachusetts been prosecuted for playing online poker?
No. As in many other states, there is no law in place that would allow lawmakers to justify arresting someone simply for playing online poker from home. The best poker sites in Massachusetts are licensed offshore as things stand, but players from Boston to Cambridge can enjoy playing the United States’ favorite card game over the internet in 2019. Of course, there is still hope that with legal online poker Massachusetts can establish an even greater framework for players to enjoy the game.