The furore in the Massachusetts Legislature earlier this year, which ended in the defeat of a proposal by Governor Deval Patrick to introduce three large land casinos to the state to improve tax revenues, could be on the cards again according to a report in the Boston Globe this week.
Online gambling observers will be watching developments closely, as the original proposal included a deeply buried clause banning online gambling in the New England state.
Patrick told a Brookline Chamber of Commerce audience that he may yet resurrect the proposal, adding that he wasn't basing his statement on the possible departure of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a major gambling opponent, but on a confluence of other factors.
The governor cited an unyielding need for property tax relief; the possibility of slot machines at the state's racetracks and ongoing efforts by the Wampanoag Indians to build their own casino, opining that these factors will re-ignite the casino debate.
"There's a lot of interest in it, and issues that die in one session don't die a permanent death. They tend to come back over time," the governor said later.
Under one scenario, Patrick said, casino gambling supporters might try to expand the slot machine bill to include the resort-style casinos proposed by the governor. Patrick projected that his plan for three casinos would generate at least $600 million in licensing fees, $400 million in annual tax revenues and 20 000 permanent jobs.
Speaker DiMasi led the effort to kill the governor's casino plan earlier this year (see previous InfoPowa reports). The Boston Democrat argued the revenues would be offset by social and economic costs, including lost business at traditional tourist destinations.
More recently, though, potential successors to the House Speaker's chair have been jockeying for position as DiMasi faced allegations of ethical lapses. The Globe reports that DiMasi has said he's not leaving, and Patrick answered a flat "no" when asked whether his comments in Brookline were rooted in a suspicion the speaker would soon depart.
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