Gamblers in Massachusetts could find themselves in jail if they decide to do their gambling online instead of at a brick and mortar casino. Governor Deval Patrick has ironically included an anti-Internet gambling provision to a bill that actually advocates casino gambling in his state.
The provision, which is included in a bill that would allow three casino licenses in the state of Massachusetts, would make it illegal for people to gamble on the Internet, a crime that could come with $25,000 in fines and jail time of up to two years for violators.
The U.S. has targeted the Internet companies in their arrests so far since last years UIGEA bill was passed making it illegal for banks to process money from gambling sites, but now Governor Patrick appears ready to go after the people placing the bets also.
Barney Frank, a fellow Democrat who is the sponsor of a US house bill to legalize and regulate online gambling, has criticized the plan as he feels Patrick’s bill is contradictory in its terms. “Why is gambling in a casino O.K. and gambling on the Internet not? He’s(Duval) making a big mistake. He’s giving opponents an argument against him.”
In effect, the governor’s bill is an attempt to create a monopoly in his state so that funds are not lost to online players.
“If players aren’t able to play freely online, if they still really want to play, they will have no choice but to visit one of Massachusetts land based casinos,” says Gordon Price, Casino Gambling Web’s gaming analyst. “That is what is considered creating a monopoly, when the government eliminates the competition.”
“This is exactly why the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and the giant EU has compensation claims against the US in the WTO. Not to mention, in the petition that Casino Gambling Web sponsored there were more upset citizens in Massachusetts than there were in most other US states over the federal prohibition on Internet gambling,” Price said.
Online gambling has grown exponentially since since 1995 when the first site went live, and statistics have proven that many people might rather play online in the comfort of their own home than go out to a casino, a trend that Massachusetts Governor Patrick is trying to stop.