Although there hasn’t been a state pass online gaming regulations since 2013, there have been several that have come up with legislation on the subject (that have failed to garner support) or have created committees to further study the situation. One of those states is Massachusetts, which has been active in building their gaming offerings with three new casinos being built around the state to counteract those in neighboring Connecticut. They have also been studying an expansion into online gaming, but one of the state’s top newspapers has come out with a definitively anti-online gaming stance.
On Sunday, the Boston Globe editorial staff penned an op-ed that looked to persuade state legislators from further pursuit of online gaming. Entitled “Don’t Gamble Massachusetts’ Future Online,” the op-ed starts out by mentioning the legislative study that is considering full online casino regulation – slots, poker, “table” games, the entire operation. They also mention that, in previous op-eds, they have supported the expansion of online lottery sales. When it comes to online gaming and poker, however, the Globe staff believes that goes too far.
One point that the Globe editorial staff brings up is that there isn’t any “ancillary benefits” to online gaming and poker. With the live casinos, the Globe writers point out that there are other areas that money is spent other than gambling – hotel rooms, dining, shopping, concerts, shows, and other non-gaming outlets which garner the state revenue. Another point brought up is that, five years after legalizing casino gaming in the state, there still isn’t a full-fledged casino open and one “slot” outlet in Plainridge hasn’t exactly drawn in the revenues that were predicted. The Globe also states that the live casinos and lottery operations can be controlled by the state, while the online offerings would have private companies in control.
The final point that the Globe makes is that online gaming and poker are “predatory.” The editors quote Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, as saying, “Young people aren’t going to brick-and-mortar casinos, which should be a good thing. This whole effort is about getting an entire new generation of youngsters hooked on gambling.”
The problem with Bernal and the organization speaking out on the subject is that the Globe fails to offer any counter-argument to the statement. It is an op-ed, granted, but some actual information from a pro-online gaming organization – the Poker Players Alliance is unfortunately the ONLY one that has any prominence in the States of America – could have at least been presented to offer some balance to the piece. It doesn’t appear, however, that the Globe staff was interested in a balanced report.
Opinions from readers are mixed on the subject, with some taking the Globe to task for not presenting a more researched opinion. “There is a good reason this article is in the opinion section,” one reader writes. “Very little evidence is show and the is an amalgam of the authors’ feelings about morality and ethics.” “Why not try a trial, a year?” another writer states. “Then (we can) evaluate…with facts.”
Others, however, applaud the stance taken by the Globe. “Bravo for taking a stand on this, though I expect our legislature will soon cave to the allure of tax revenue,” one writer says. Another takes a rather extreme stance in writing, “Gambling is a tax on stupidity. We shouldn’t be taxing it, we should be trying to mitigate it.”
Massachusetts is examining the potential of online gaming, as are several other states in the Northeast. Pennsylvania has passed the revenues from online gaming into their current budget, but they have been unable to reach an agreement on regulating the industry. New York currently has legislation in its General Assembly, but that has been the case for the last three years. Being first into the action would be of great advantage to the Bay State, but the Globe doesn’t believe that it is worth the risk for the state or its citizens to open online casino gaming and poker.