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State rolling the dice

House passes bill on gambling

April 18, 2010
The odds are even that casino gaming will be legalized in Massachusetts.

The House of Representatives, last week, passed a bill approving four slot machine licenses and two resort casino licenses in the Commonwealth. The bill is now headed to the Senate for debate, where it will most likely undergo some significant changes before it again sees the light of day — or the flashing lights of a casino marquee.

The House, in a resounding veto-proof 120-73 vote, approved the bill sponsored by Speaker Robert DeLeo. It was almost the complete opposite of the vote taken on Gov. Deval Patrick's expanded gaming bill proposed in 2008.

Contained in the most recent bill is an allotment of 750 slot machines for each of the four racetracks in Massachusetts — Suffolk Downs, Wonderland Greyhound Park, Raynham Park and Plainridge Racecourse — for a fee of $15 million apiece.

In addition to the 3,000 slot machines that could be introduced, the bill also provides two resort casino licenses for locations not affiliated with racing to be awarded by a gaming commission, which is yet to be fully established.

Although there is still a good deal of research and debate to be had before the issue is put to rest, state representatives and local officials are voicing opinions on the bill that intends to create jobs and municipal revenue, but may also come with a price to be paid in social implications.

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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