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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It appears casino gambling in Massachusetts after four years of often contentious debate is about to become a reality. Now comes the hard part.

The measure approved by the House-Senate conference committee calls for three "resort" casinos and one slots parlor. Happy hour across Massachusetts is out, a one-year cooling off period for elected officials working for the industry is in.

Also is in the DeLeo Amendment, a provision that will limit a voter referendum on casinos to East Boston, home to Suffolk Downs and a likely casino location.

And House Speaker Robert DeLeo also succeeded in carrying the oats of the moribund horse racing industry that employed his father -- winning a provision that would divert an additional 5 percent of the money from the one-time casino license fees and 5 percent of annual taxes from casinos to the horse racing fund.

That money would come from the pot intended for local aid to all cities and towns to preserve an industry that has been dying on the vine for decades.

Patrick and lawmakers have been dreaming of their own jackpot of jobs and revenue since the governor first proposed destination casinos four years ago. Their cause was strengthened when the casinos' biggest foe, Sal DiMasi, turned out to be a crook.

The inevitability of this bill was apparent from the beginning of the current session Patrick, DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray negotiated the broad parameters behind closed doors and lawmakers held limited open debate until the measure had a symbolic lengthy airing in the Senate.

So with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads -- and industry dollars filling their campaign coffers -- it's time for Patrick and lawmakers to get to the very important next steps: making sure making sure that gambling's promised gold gets into the hands of cities and towns and not the folks with outstretched hands.

Attorney General Martha Coakley has suggested the state's anti-corruption and racketeering laws are not up to the task of policing the free flow of cash from this new industry. It would be good policy to beef that up.

But given the history of this bill, I'm not betting on that happening -- until someone's well-manicured hands are found in the till.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you ever think that maybe true Progressives will leave the Democratic Party (the owners of all legislation that has to do with this) and form a pie in the sky party of their own which actually has the best interests of the people at heart? Or will they cling to these politicians and sweep objections under the rug, like the bishops moved pedophile priests around, knowing a church scandal would dry up donations to the collection plates. Expediency

November 15, 2011 9:12 AM  

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