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DeLeo Wants Gambling Legislation Passed by July

7 June 2011 by admin

massachusetts-location-mapHere we go again. Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House, is nothing if not confident. Fresh off last year’s failure to pass gambling expansion, he is now confident that it will pass by sometime this July. If it doesn’t then I guess we at will get to write about it again next year.

Coming out of a meeting with Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray, DeLeo told reporters that he thinks the bill will be successful and he is eyeing July for its passage. If he is that confident, maybe it’s not too optimistic to assume that the three worked out a compromise in the governor’s office.

Last year, the House and Senate passed legislation that would have brought three casino resorts and two racetrack casinos to the state. Governor Patrick opposes adding slot machines to racetracks, though, and threatened to veto the bill. He eventually conditionally vetoed it by removing the racinos through an amendment. Without the racetrack gambling facilities, the bill didn’t have enough votes to pass the legislature and the bill died a quiet death a short time later.

This year, DeLeo and Murray are intent on passing gambling expansion again, but Patrick has said that he still opposes adding slots to the tracks. He has also said that gambling expansion is a higher priority for DeLeo than it is for him.

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently debating the fiscal budget for 2012. Once a compromise is reached on the budget, DeLeo hopes to turn the attention to the gambling bill, perhaps as a way of adding money to that budget. Not everyone is onboard with the expansion plan, though. On Monday, Scott Harshbarger, the former attorney general, released a 19-page report criticizing the plan, saying that the state is taking part in a “gold rush” without making sure the appropriate precautions are taken. He called for an independent study to be conducted first, as well as an establishment of an independent regulatory body.

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