Among the many activities you can pursue online—rent a movie, buy groceries, pay a parking ticket—you may soon be able to pull the lever on a slot machine. Massachusetts Senator Bruce Tarr introduced a bill that would allow Massachusetts casinos to enter the online gambling arena. The drive behind the bill is that, with other states already allowing online gambling, Massachusetts is at a competitive disadvantage in a highly profitable industry. Without the ability to evolve with industry innovations, Massachusetts casinos will never reach the full economic potential for the state.
Under the bill, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission would have the authority to issue online gambling licenses to state casinos, and only those casinos could offer online gambling. Currently, Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville is the only operating gambling facility in the state. A spokesman for Penn National Gaming, the owners of Plainridge, said they “support the authorization of Internet gaming to the extent it protects the economic investment the brick-and-mortar casinos have made in the state and the jobs we’ve created.”
The need for an online business presence to bolster, rather than demolish, an actual physical business is trending in the twenty-first century—and for good reason. There are multiple plots of undeveloped land intended for casinos throughout Massachusetts. The Gaming Commission has issued licenses for casinos in Springfield and Everett, the Wampanoag Native American tribe has plans to build a casino in Taunton, and an application has been submitted for a Brockton casino. Proponents, like Senator Tarr, see issuing online licenses as the ticket to more consumers while skeptics fear it will be the end to real-world casinos and the jobs that come with them. Time will tell whether Senator Tarr’s bill will force a fold or be the industry jackpot.