Major Shift for Massachusetts as Governor Deval Patrick Signs Casinos Into Law
A bill that would make the state of Massachusetts the 40th state with legal casinos or slot parlors is expected to be signed by Governor Deval Patrick this morning.
The momentous shift in a state that has been founded by Puritans follows years of strong lobbying by the casino industry and a couple of near misses in the Legislature.
The bill on the governor’s desk, which has been approved by legislators on a final vote in the fading hours of last week’s legislative session, permits on slot machine parlor and three full-scale casinos.
Legislators say that the slot parlor, which needs minimal investment, could open in a year. There is disagreement on how long it will take to open the full-scale casinos. A state report has suggested that a 5-year timetable is likely but proponents claim that it would only take three to four years.
The proponents, who included the governor and some of the most powerful Democrats in the state, say that casinos will help minimize the unemployment problem in the state and revitalize the state budget. They say that state residents are already spending freely in casinos situated at neighboring states.
Opponents, on the other hand, say that the state will lose money in combating increased crime and dependency, as well as weaken the quality of life of residents through increased addiction.
The focus on gambling is now shifting from the question of whether it will happen to where the casinos will be constructed. The bill permits three casinos in separate regions of Massachusetts, namely, one in the Boston area extending to Worcester, one for Western Massachusetts and the third one for Southeastern Massachusetts. The bill grants the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe an advantage in winning the right to run the casino in the Southeastern section of the state.