Massachusetts: Gambling bill has many amendments

216 amendments have been put forward

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo's legislative attempt to introduce land casinos to the state is to be debated today (Tuesday) and has already attracted some 216 suggested amendments from House representatives, reports the Boston Globe newspaper.

Among them are motions to strike out language buried in the bill which would criminalise online gambling - including online poker - in the state.

Taking issue with this small clause with such big implications, the Poker Players Alliance has been active in drumming up opposition to its inclusion. One of the PPA regional directors, Rich Muny last
week advised members of at least two major poker forums that the anti-poker language would be removed from the bill. "I just received confirmation that the anti-poker language will be stricken in a
technical corrections package as soon as this Friday. We've also been asked to ‘call off the dogs.’ It seems our blast was eliciting a lot of calls and emails,” Muny wrote.

This was subsequently confirmed, albeit more cautiously, by PPA executive director John Pappas, who said last week: “We have received commitments that the language will be stricken or amended so as not to affect poker. At least three amendments have been filed to correct this when the House begins debate on Tuesday."

Talking to the Boston Globe about the large number of amendments, Speaker DeLeo told the Boston Globe that members of the House had raised ideas that would be considered, perhaps raising "a tweak here or a tweak there," but opined that it was unlikely there would be any major changes to the legislation.

Most of the amendments concern precautions against problem gambling.

The troublesome clause from an online gambling industry perspective reads: “Any person who knowingly transmits or receives a wager of any type by any telecommunication device, including telephone, cellular phone, internet, local area network…or knowingly installs or maintains said device or equipment for the transmission or receipt of wagering information shall be punished.” Suggested punishments include a $25 000 fine.

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