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BOSTON � Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson organized a rally at the Massachusetts State House on March 18 to protest provisions of a pending resort casino bill that would criminalize poker. Most of the political battle over the casino expansion bill, H. 4307, An Act Establishing and Regulating Resort Casinos in the Commonwealth, concerns whether allowing three resort casinos within the state’s borders would generate enough casino and construction jobs to outweigh the social costs of the gambling. Nesson timed his rally to precede a well-attended hearing about the bill held by the joint committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. Nesson, who founded The Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society at Harvard Law to tout poker’s educational benefits, said in a statement that Governor Deval Patrick owes state residents “an explanation” for the bill’s anti-poker provisions. Nesson objects to a provision in the bill calling for a fine up to $25,000 or a two year jail term for online poker players, even for games with no money at stake. “I don’t think filling our expensive jail cells with poker players is what Massachusetts voters had in mind when they elected Deval Patrick,” Nesson said. The Patrick administration looks forward to having a debate on the provision in question and other provisions on the House floor, said Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Dan O’Connell. “[That] is where we believe debate on this legislation belongs,” Jones said.

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