Massachusetts Passes New Casino Bill

By Maria McCoyGoogle

The State of Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate passed a controversial bill licensing the construction of three new casinos and one slot parlor.  Governor Patrick Deval is expected to sign the bill into law by the end of the month.

In a previous version, the bill had passed the House including an article licensing online gambling, but the article was removed by the Senate.  A six member special committee formulated a compromise form of the bill that did not include the online gambling article.  The new version passed in the Senate by a vote of 23 to 14 and passed in the House by a vote of 118 to 33.

Once the bill is signed into law by governor Deval, industry experts expect a bidding war to take place between the potential casino operators.  The bill received bipartisan support with the hope that the new casinos would both create thousands of new employment opportunities and much needed tax revenue for the state coffers. 

While Republican Representative Paul Frost lauded the bill about its future job creation, Democratic Representative Ruth Balser condemned the bill stating that it would have devastating impacts on the social and economic climate of Massachusetts.

Despite the fact that the bill passed with a very large majority in the House, Governor Deval said he would nonetheless carefully review the bill before signing it into law.

The bill offers first dibs on the rights to open a casino in one of Massachusetts’ southern districts to a local Native American tribe.  The tribe will be given a negotiation period to achieve a revenue sharing contract with local authorities.  The other two licenses will be available commercially.

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