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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

It's not a gambling bill, it's a jobs bill

The first thing that strikes you about the new casino gambling bill before offered today (did they pick April Fool's Day for a reason?) is the new packaging: now this is really a bill that would create as many as 15,000 jobs.

And as if to highlight that fact, members of the state's construction unions just happened to hold a rally outside the Statehouse to offer support for a proposed piece of legislation that hasn't even been formally introduced.

What a difference it makes when the Speaker of the House is the prime author of the bill instead of the prime opponent.

Robert DeLeo's proposal will apparently make less extravagant claims about potential new revenue for a cash-starved state while offering hope of jobs -- both in construction and in two resort casinos.

But the most immediate benefits if this bill were to become law would be felt by two struggling businesses in DeLeo's district -- Suffolk Downs and Wonderland Greyhound Park. It will take time to site and build casinos, the slot machines called for in the DeLeo bill could be installed the day after the law is signed.

Word has it DeLeo's forces are searching for a veto-proof majority in the House. That's because while Gov. Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray are destination casino fans, they're not so into race track slots.

Whether DeLeo has the super majority of votes in a still divided House remains a big question -- although rumors are afloat of an elaborate political deal to get it done.

Where the public is on all of this is also a great gray area. A recent poll suggests more than half of Massachusetts resident favor DeLeo's racinos concept. There's no indication that the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth poll used the same methodology (counting license plates in out-of-state casino lots) as it uses to determine revenue lost out-of-state.

But with even more cuts due in the fiscal 2011 budget now being crafted in House Ways and Means, the vision of jobs and revenues may be tantalizing no matter how big a distant dream they may be.

UPDATE: Here's another interesting look at the potential (not-so-good) impact of gambling -- this time on the arts.

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Blogger Ryan said...

The Speaker certainly has a lot of chutzpa for suggesting a something-for-nothing scheme as a 'back-up' if he doesn't get slots at the racetracks like he wants to.

Money for nothing? Are you kidding me? The very notion that such an idea would even be considered by him is outrageous. It's well past time for a speaker who will look for serious solutions to our Commonwealth's problems, not gimmicks and certainly not special interest-funded solutions to things that aren't problems.

April 01, 2010 7:30 AM  

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