Casinos No Go In Massachusetts

Published on: March 20, 2008 

Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick is not having a good day.  He received word that the legislative committee reviewing his casino gambling bill has given the recommendation to reject the bill, squashing the hope of getting three new revenue making casinos constructed in the state.  The bill was voted down 10-8 with one abstention, and it will go to the floor of the state’s House of Representatives with a rejection recommendation.

Patrick stated in his press conference that he was disappointed but not surprised.  He stated that the cities and towns are the ones that will ultimately suffer.  Projected revenues from the casinos would’ve been around $400 million and they would’ve created 20,000 new and much needed permanent jobs.  He continued on by pointing out that this is the fourth time the state legislation has rejected something that would’ve been beneficial to the state and its residents.

This is not the first bill Patrick has had shot down in the House.  A 2% restaurant meal tax and an addition of one percent to the four percent hotel and motel room tax were also rejected by the legislation.  A third bill levying property taxes on telecommunications companies was also rejected.  Patrick thinks its time for the House to start offering some revenue making ideas for the state.

The committee was in session hashing out the casino bill for thirteen hours.  In its place, a vote on a bill that would allow slot machines at the racetracks on the state’s east coast would be taken.  Most of the committee members claimed they were doing the right thing for their constituents by recommending a rejection.  The members took into consideration the financial problems of neighbouring Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island – all who have casinos – and decided that the casinos wouldn’t help their own.  There was also a concern that the casinos would hurt the state Lottery and local businesses.

At this point the bill will probably be completely shot down unless the House members ask for a substitution.  If that happens, Patrick’s bill still has a chance although certain concessions will need to be made as determined by the Governor and legislation.  If no substitution is requested, the bill will simply die.  It is believed that there will be a debate over the pros and cons of the bill, but Patrick is not expecting it to be a ‘full, open and robust debate’.

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