Online Poker Clause Removed from Mass. Bill
February 13, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — The so-far unsuccessful attempt by Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick to introduce tax-raising land casinos to the New England state has entered its third year with a new bill introduced by Representatives Brian Wallace and Martin Walsh.
The attempt to expand gambling in the state has attracted the attention of the online gambling community mainly due to a clause buried in the legislation which imposes heavy fines for any resident caught gambling online — an attempt to introduce the same player-specific penalties as were introduced to Washington state two years ago.
Last year the legislation failed, but with the departure from the House of some of the main drivers of opposition to it, the bill may stand a better chance. This being the case, the news this week that the online gambling clause had been removed will be especially welcome.
Representative Wallace has confirmed that the clause is to be struck from the 49-page bill, saying that this year's attempt was assembled in a rush with input from various sources, and the clause had "inadvertently" been left in.
Wallace said that he, and presumably other architects of the resurrected bill, had been impressed with the testimony given by Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson before a House committee last year, which dealt specifically with online poker.
Nesson, who founded the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society, pointed out that poker is an exceptional game of skill that can be used to teach strategic thinking, geopolitical analysis, risk assessment, and money management — a metaphor for live skills, in fact.
Supporting Professor Nesson's persuasive arguments were members of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), who were very active in lobbying politicians and keeping the issue of legalized poker in the public eye. This week the PPA publicly thanked the two Democratic Party representatives for removing the online clause from the reintroduced gambling expansion bill.
"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 Alliance advised. "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."