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Massachusetts Gambling Talks Closed to Public

3 November 2011 by admin

massachusetts-location-mapOn Tuesday, the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to close the rest of the gambling bill negotiations to the public. The most contentious issues of bills are often handled by committee and the Massachusetts legislature has made it a common practice to close those talks to the public.

The bill would sanction three resort casinos and one slot parlor in the state, with the license for each subject to competitive bidding. Last year, the legislature passed a similar bill authorizing three casinos and two slot parlors at racetracks, but Governor Deval Patrick killed the bill. He is said to be onboard with the current legislation.

One of the points of contention is a provision in the bill that would bar lawmakers from working in the casino industry for a year after they leave public office. That provision is intended to combat corruption by making it so that lawmakers can’t give a favor to a company they plan to work for as soon as they leave office. Some in the House disagree with it, though. Democrat Joseph Wagner said it is tying “one or both hands behind our backs by limiting ourselves.” He also said that making lawmakers wait one year before working in the casino industry would be to “preclude the best and brightest from being eligible.” He even went so far as to say that lawmakers should be allowed to work for casinos even if they are “in the government presently.”

The House will begin a seven-week recess on November 16. Source in the House of Representatives say they are “hopeful” that the negotiations will be completed before then. Once the bill passes the legislature, it is likely to be signed by Patrick unless there have been major changes to it.

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