State Leaders Unveil Casino Bill Compromise

By Sarah Birnbaum

Aug. 24, 2011

BOSTON — After months of closed door negotiations with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, legislative leaders released a new casino gambling bill Tuesday. Many lawmakers predict this time, it will pass, unlike when last summer legislators failed to compromise on a bill.

The bill would license three resort casinos: one in Western Massachusetts, one in Southeastern Massachusetts and one in the Boston area. 

It would also allow for one slot parlor. That may sound like it’s incidental, it’s actually a major concession on the part of House Speaker Robert Deleo.

Last year, the gambling bill fell apart at the eleventh hour because the Speaker and Governor Deval Patrick couldn't come to an agreement on slots at the racetracks.  The speaker wanted two, but Patrick would only go as far as one.

But this time around, Speaker Deleo says he was ready to compromise. "After what we did last year, I went in with the idea this year that we had to get a bill done and we had to get it done this year. As I've said before, I was willing to go into this process and willing to negotiate even further than I had before. We can't leave 16,000 jobs on the table, especially in this type of economy," Deleo said.

State Senator Stanley Rosenberg of Amherst, the Senate’s point person on gambling, says the bill will probably pass:

“Since the Governor, the Speaker and the Senate President are in agreement on the content, if a simple majority in the House vote on it without major changes, and a simple majority in the Senate without major changes, then I believe the Governor would sign it,” Rosenberg said.

The Joint Committee on Economic Development will vote on the proposal by Friday. The full House and Senate will take it up after Labor Day.

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