Casino Bill Dead By 108 to 46

Published on: March 23, 2008 

There is no doubt about it; Massachusetts will not be getting three more casinos.  The bill that was introduced by Governor Deval Patrick was rejected by the house 108 to 46.  According to analysts, the House vote had to do less with gambling and more to do with political maneuvering in the state’s government that anything else.  Governor Patrick has been left with a highly embarrassing defeat with the rejection of his first major legislative battle.  Even social science professors throughout the state’s college and university system have claimed that the Governor now has egg on his face.

The bill that was rejected was to allow three new casinos and resorts to be built in the state as well legalizing Internet gambling.  The Massachusetts speaker of the House, Salvatore DiMasi, was the biggest opponent to the bill and championed the rejection of the bill.  He felt that the social costs of the gambling establishments were overwhelming more important than the potential revenue the casinos would’ve offered the state.  He felt there were better ways to create jobs and that by rejecting the bill, the residents of the state won a major battle.

A committee that reviewed the bill earlier in the week recommended that bill be rejected.  Governor Patrick, feeling that the House would take the recommendation, left for New York after the recommendation was announced with no apparent explanation.  His staff insists, however, that he is supportive of the House and Senate leadership and is looking forward to working with them to develop other economic initiatives.  Analysts feel that Patrick waited too long to lobby support for the bill from the state’s unions and local politicians, a mistake of a freshman politician.   

The gambling bill wound up becoming a power struggle in the state’s legislature between DiMasi and Patrick.  The bill failure may wind up being a problem for DiMasi.  The state has a $1.3 billion shortfall in this year’s budget and DiMasi could be looking at serious criticism for opposing the bill as the nation’s economy continues to fall apart.  The casinos could have easily generated over $400 million dollars in tax revenue and provided 20,000 permanent jobs.  Surprisingly enough, Representative David Flynn is seeing the defeat of the bill as a way to push the suggestion of adding 2,500 slot machines to the state’s racetracks in place of the three casinos.  If Flynn can get his measure pushed through, it will be the reversal of a defeat he faced in 2006 when he initially proposed the slot machine idea.

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