Wednesday, November 16, 2011 : But no sign of the online gambling legalization amendment
 
Close, but no cigar, appears to be an apt comment on Rep. Dan Winslow's attempt to attach an online gambling legalization amendment to Massachusetts legalization approving new land casinos in the state.
 
In September, Winslow's daring attempt met with success as the House passed the bill with the internet gaming amendment still on board, albeit in somewhat diluted form.
 
Then it was omitted from the Senate bill and the two versions of the land casino bill went to a six-member, bi-partisan conference committee to be reconciled into one final measure.
 
The legislative protocol is that any differences in the House and Senate bills be reconciled by conference, and as the legislature runs into its last few days before adjournment this appears to have been achieved…unfortunately without the online gambling amendment finding favour, a clear indication that state lawmakers are not prepared to take this thorny issue on at this point.
 
The reconciled bill passed the state House Tuesday on a 118-33 vote, with the Senate quickly following with a 23-14 approval. All that now remains is a procedural vote to send the combined bill to Gov. Patrick Deval for signature into law.
 
Interestingly, the final bill bars state, county and local officials, including state lawmakers, from working in the casino industry for at least one year after leaving office if those officials were involved with voting on or regulating [land] casinos.
 
Supporters of the Massachusetts gambling expansion represented by the bill claim that it will create as many as 15,000 jobs in the state, including 6,000 temporary construction jobs, and generate at least $300 million in new annual revenue for the state and its cities and towns.