The Massachusetts Legislature announced that it would retreat from its decision to allow access to ATMs at gambling venues. A few days ago, the House and Senate agreed on the removal of special cash machines measures from a bill, which concerns banking laws. The bill was then sent to Gov. Deval Patrick.
Proponents of anti-casino policy will be particularly happy with the legislative body’s decision. Yet, many will be confused by the fact that a banking law that is 33 years old is to be applied to casino industry in the state of Massachusetts.
Under the law from 1981 that legislators intend to apply, banks which are regulated by the federal government could freely ink deals with gambling operators to place ATMs anywhere within the territory of a given casino resort. As for state-regulated banks, they would not be allowed to make such deals. In other words, they would be subject to the aforementioned ban.
Sen. Anthony Petruccelli and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr shared after the Wednesday session that they were not informed whether the ATMs issue in gambling venues will be revisited during the next session. Yet, Mr. Tarr commented that this is inevitable. According to him, the “current inequities for different banks are untenable”.
Rep. Paul Donato, who presided over the session in question, commented that what should be discussed during their next session is whether banks that are federally regulated should be allowed to place their ATMs in casinos.
Proponents of anti-casino policy claim that the Division of Banks, which oversees local state-chartered banks, has every right to impose rules on federally regulated banks, too.
Back in July, the House approved a special banking bill that would have lifted the ban on ATMs in casinos. On Monday, December 29, the Senate passed an amendment offered by Sen. Stephen Brewer for less strict limitations to be put on cash machines in casinos and for the Gaming Commission to be given certain regulatory control. On Wednesday’s session, the House did not approve of the Senate plan and the above-mentioned bill was sent to Sen. Patrick without any language concerning ATMs in gambling venues.
Electronic banking at casinos is prohibited by the banking laws of the state of Massachusetts. Yet, the Expanded Gaming Act from 2011 mentions ATMs and that they should not be able to accept benefit cards. A certain number of lawyers interpreted this law and the mention of cash machines as an implied authorization of their placement within casinos premises.
The Gaming Commission has temporarily restricted the installation of ATMs to no less than 15 feet from the floor of any gambling venue.
Attorney General-elect Maura Healey commented that the decision for the ban on cash machines within the premises of casinos to be lifted should be carefully and thoroughly considered.
The House and the Senate will gather together on Monday, January 5, to further discuss bills and regulations.