Breathe a little easier Massachusetts poker players. Online players from the Bay State were getting a little nervous when a bill introduced last year by Governor Deval Patrick, which was turned down, resurfaced this year. The bill is an attempt to tap into the brick-and-mortar casino market that surrounds Mass. Many citizens travel to nearby Foxwoods Casino or Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, or take the trip down 95 to Atlantic City. Gov. Patrick seeks to approve three resort casinos in the Commonwealth.
What had players nervous was the relatively short, almost hidden portion of the bill relating to online gambling and poker. The section states:
“Any person who, except in accordance with section 5C of chapter 128A, knowingly transmits or receives a wager of any type by any telecommunication device, including telephone, cellular phone, Internet, local area network, including wireless local networks, or any other similar device or equipment or other medium of communication, or knowingly installs or maintains said device or equipment for the transmission or receipt of wagering information shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2 years, or a fine of not more than $25,000, or both.”
However, this time around a grassroots effort led by the Poker Players Alliance was able to get the verbiage about online gambling removed completely. Members responded quickly and in great numbers. Many of the Representatives who would vote on the law said that they hadn’t even realized the part about online gambling was still in the bill. Two Reps. specifically, Brian Wallace and Martin Walsh (who had reintroduced the bill together) heard the pleas of the Poker Players Alliance and were able to get the criminal provision dropped.
The Poker Players Alliance issued a note to their supporters announcing the decision by lawmakers:
“Thank you for your quick response to Representative Brian Wallace (D-4 Suffolk) and Martin Walsh’s (D-13 Suffolk) bill HR 3954, which expanded gambling in the state but also included a provision making Internet poker illegal with up to two years in a house of corrections and up to a $25,000 fine.
Because of the multitude of dedicated PPA members from all over the Commonwealth that acted by calling and flooded their offices at the General Assembly, both Representatives have committed to removing the criminal Internet poker provision from the HR 3954.
The PPA applauds both Representatives Wallace and Walsh for their swift action on this matter. It is clear that they listened to the concerns voiced by Massachusetts PPA members and acted promptly in resolving this issue.”