In the recent past, the state of Massachusetts, in an effort spearheaded by House Speaker Robert A. De Leo, tried to put forth a bill that would actually criminalize all forms of internet gambling, explicitly including online poker. Sitting at home clicking buttons for fun and profit would, in De Leo’s world, net you prison time and fines of up to $25,000. But thankfully, a truly intense effort by the Massachusetts section of the Poker Players Alliance achieved victory by brute-forcing the offending parts out of the bill.
In particular, Section 36(v) of the Massachusetts Casino Bill would include gems such as “Any person who knowingly transmits or receives a wager of any type by any telecommunication device, including telephone, cellular phone, internet, [or] local area network… or knowingly installs or maintains said device or equipment for the transmission or receipt of wagering information shall be punished” and also “any person who, from within the Commonwealth, transmits a wager to, or receives a wager from, another person or gaming establishment within or outside of the Commonwealth”. Punishments, as detailed earlier, would include suffering in prison and up to 25,000 in fines. Exception to the rule would only have been applied to Massachusetts authorities who are playing at the online poker sites because they are investigating the sites in question, looking to throw a wrench in the sites’ business machine.
Imagine if a senior decided to play some online poker for a little bit of fun? BOOM! Prison time. And one is left to wonder as to why the prisons are overcrowded.
Of course, this is somehow justified with the usual “it will create jobs” and “it should jump start the struggling economy (of the state)”. The bill would have called for the granting and issuing of two Massachusetts Casino Licenses for $100 Million each, and also for the issuing and granting of four slot machine licenses for $15 Million each. Revenue that the bill would generate would then be directed towards all the areas that would need money, such as schooling, tourism, community colleges etc.
Thankfully, the Poker Players Alliance would not let any fast balls get through and got on the case quickly. In a so-called call to arms, they bombarded the state department with a bazillion of phone calls and email, and lo and behold, got them to see reason. The now infamous section 36(v) will be stricken from the Massachusetts casino Bill. You would have to keep in mind though, while online poker is going to be left alone, actual online casino gambling will suffer a very different fate as it will remain criminalized. The “Poker is a Skill Game” debate is one that is as old as the sun itself, but for now it is universally recognized as a skill game, and this is the reason that it will be exempted from the bill.
Score 1 for the Poker Players Alliance and 0 for the Nutso Politicians on this one. Keep up the good fight guys!