Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts was caught out by the Poker Players' Alliance in a little sleight of political hand this week when he proposed a bill to allow resort-style casinos into the state, but included a rather hypocritical clause to ban Internet gambling.
The legislator now faces a growing outcry from online gamblers against his "Act Establishing and Regulating Resort Casinos in the Commonwealth" – specifically a clause in the 28 page proposal which reads:
"Any person who 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."
The PPA picked up on the deeply buried clause, which had received little attention, and made a warning statement appealing to Massachsetts online gamblers to make their views known to their state representatives.
In the statement, PPA executive director John Pappas pointed out the irony of including anti-online gambling legalization in a pro-casino gambling bill.
The governor is already experiencing heavy opposition to the proposal, which has yet to gather significant support. One of the biggest objections relates to the validity of the plan's financial assumptions. Patrick has estimated that the three proposed resort casinos would generate 20 000 jobs and $2 billion in economic activity, but his assessment is being vigorously questioned. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Association has come forward to say that the proposal's financial assumptions are not credible; revenues are overstated and state incomes from the venture will never be realised.
Massachusetts Representative Dan Bosely, Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, typifies the toughening opposition when he says: "They're short in all of the accounts. There isn't enough for public infrastructure, mitigation, or all sorts of social ills. It's pie in the sky, and they're not going to do this."
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