The Massachusetts State Senate voted 25-15 for a plan that would establish three resort-style casinos in the Commonwealth. They’d be located in Boston, the western part of the state and in the southeastern part of the state. It’s estimated that the three casinos would create 15,000 new jobs and produce approximately $300 million in tax and fee revenue each year. Senators from this region that voted for the bill were Steve Panagiotakos (Lowell) and Ken Donnelly of Arlington (who also represents Billerica). Voting against the bill were Sue Tucker, Sue Fargo and Jamie Eldridge. The full results of the Senate vote are here.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has already passed its own casino bill but it contains significant differences, most notably it calls for only 2 casinos but it also allows slot machines at the state’s existing race tracks. The two bills now go to a conference committee to be reconciled. Despite their differences, I’m guessing that some compromise will be reached since there seems to be strong support for the concept and because of the attractiveness of the infusion of revenue derived from means other than a tax increase. This will all have to be done rather quickly since the legislative session comes to a close at the end of July and legislators will want to leave themselves plenty of time to override any veto the Governor may make if and when he signs the bill.
I’m ambivalent when it comes to casinos and state-sponsored gambling in general. Gambling holds no attraction for me, but many people I know truly enjoy visiting Foxwoods so who am I to judge how or where another person spends his recreational dollars. If they’re going to gamble, why not do it here within the Commonwealth so that the state can get its share of the money. That’s what I think every time I stop for gasoline or a coffee and see folks furiously scratching away at their lottery tickets. While they might win big (and there’s certainly entertainment value in harboring that hope), odds are they will lose and for every dollar they lose, it’s one less dollar I have to contribute to the state’s revenue, so it’s OK with me.