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Against Governor's Wishes, Gambling Bill Filed In Massachusetts

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The last legislative session in Massachusetts ended with Governor Duval Patrick vetoing a makeshift casino gambling expansion bill. When lawmakers would not return to recreate the bill, Patrick insisted that the issue should be put on the back burner for a while.

The governor has repeatedly said in the new year that he would like to see the gambling issue tabled until lawmakers had time to work on other important issues in the new session. Not less than a week into the new session, and one legislator has already disregarded the governor's request.

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan has filed a bill that would bring three new casino resorts to Massachusetts. Sen. Flanagan is touting the bill as one that will help legislators when they begin to take about the state budget. The bill Flanagan filed will bring an estimated $350 million annually to that budget.

Gov, Patrick has been the driving force behind casino resort creation in Massachusetts for the past several years, but he has become upset with the lack of progress on the issue. When Patrick finally received an ally in House Speaker Robert DeLeo, after a year of failure, it was considered a slam dunk that the legislation would be completed.

DeLeo, however, started to push for slots at state racetracks, an idea that Patrick was vehemently opposed to. When DeLeo and other lawmakers included slots at the tracks in their last proposal sent to Patrick, the governor vetoed the legislation. That brought lawmakers back in 2011 with the issue still hanging above their heads.

Flanagan's bill does not specifically call for slots at state tracks, but does leave the possibility open that the tracks could bid on the three casino resort licenses. In addition, Flanagan tackles the controversial issue of a smoking ban at the casino resorts. The bill would enforce the smoking ban.

In addition to the tax revenue generated, Flanagan claims approval of her bill would bring 9,000 temporary construction jobs and 15,000 permanent jobs to Massachusetts residents. Senate President Therese Murray suggested that lawmakers may move quickly on the bill in order to have it completed before legislators tackle the budget.

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