nder the legislation drafted by Patrick, expected to be heard by the state legislature in 2008, the state would grant licenses to three casinos seeking to do business in Massachusetts. Each casino would pay a 10-year licensing fee of $200 million to $300 million, and different developers would bid on the contracts to build the casinos.
At the same time, the bill would criminalize any participation in placing or receiving any kind of bet over a telephone, cellular phone, Internet or local wireless connection in the state of Massachusetts. Violators could serve up to two years in prison and pay up to a us$ 25,000 fine.
Federal law already prohibits any sort of gambling using telephone lines, which has been interpreted by the Department of Justice to include the Internet. However, the government typically only prosecutes those who operate Internet gambling sites; not all those who participate in the gambling.
To date, only three states have banned online gambling over and above the federal regulations: Nevada, Utah and Washington. The seeming contradiction in Patrick’s legislation has drawn opposition even from potential allies.
"It makes absolutely no sense to me," said Randy Castonguay, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Poker Players Alliance. "It’s actually kind of laughable if you think about it."
The alliance supports bringing in casinos but will be opposing the bill. U.S. Representative Frank Barney, who supports banning online gambling, also criticized Patrick for the appearance of hypocrisy.
Others, such as David Schwartz, the director of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas’ Center for Gaming Research, had stronger words. "If you were cynical about it, you’d think that they’re trying to set up a monopoly for the casinos," Schwartz said.