Massachusetts Lawmakers Finally Agree On Gambling Bill
Massachusetts lawmakers have been battling over gambling expansion for several years. Last year, legislators passed a casino resorts bill, only to watch it be vetoed by Governor Deval Patrick. The governor was opposed to allowing slots at state race tracks at the time.
After a year of negotiations and public bantering, Governor Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray have all signed off on a new bill that would bring four new Las Vegas-style casino resorts to Massachusetts. The legislation, if passed, would be a groundbreaking moment for the gaming industry in the US.
Opponents of expanded gambling in the state had argued that lawmakers should commission a report on the economics of bringing casino resorts to the state. The opponents believe that the economic recession may have changed some of the numbers that were found in a report done before the 2008 financial meltdown in the country.
DeLeo, defended what some perceived as a back-door negotiation tactic that the house speaker, senate president, and governor used to get the gambling bill completed. DeLeo and Patrick both have claimed that if the debates were public, it would have been harder to negotiate and come to an amicable solution.
The bill that will now be sent to lawmakers in the Senate and House, allows for four casino resorts in Massachusetts. A slot license would also be available for state race tracks, but it will be bid on, instead of awarded. Patrick has insisted on a competitive process for the licensing of the slot facility.
The developers of the four casino resorts will have to agree to at least a $500 million investment. The starting price for a casino resort license will be $85 million, and the winner will then be required to pay the state twenty-five percent of the revenue from the gaming.
The slot license carries a minimum investment of $125 million, and a $25 starting bid for the license. The winner of the license will likely pay much more than the $25 million, with most race track executives understanding the difference in popularity of their facility if slots were added in the future.
One thing the casinos will not get that some in other states have been awarded, is an exemption from the state smoking ban. The four casino resorts, and the slot hall, will all be smoke-free. The industry is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the state and hundreds of millions of dollars for the state budget.
August 27, 2011
Posted By April Gardner
Staff Editor, CasinoGamblingWeb.com
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