State Rep. Daniel Winslow, R-Norfolk, has proposed licensing Internet poker companies in the state as the legislature examined gambling in the state.
Winslow filed an amendment to state gambling legislation last week that would allow up to five such companies to operate in Massachusetts.
"The legislation has two categories: casinos and slots," he said. "I've proposed a third category."
Winslow said Internet poker offers a unique opportunity to the state.
"No state in the country authorizes Internet poker," he said. "It exists in Massachusetts, though — it's just run offshore."
He cited three main purposes of the legislation.
"It will create high-tech job opportunities in the state," he said. "The second purpose to provide Massachusetts with additional revenue."
Winslow said the third purpose was to ensure consumer safety, noting that the offshore — and thus regulation-free — nature of existing online poker companies leaves the door open for fraud.
According to Winslow, federal law prohibits online games of chance, not games of skill.
Winslow said the legislation would call for companies to ensure that those people under 21 years old or who live in areas where Internet poker is prohibited do not participate in the games.
"[The companies] can require credit card verification and cross-check public documents," he said.
The state legislature will be looking at the gambling bill this week. Winslow said, if the legislation and amendment is passed, regulations for Internet poker would be formed by next July.