Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
The Globe reports there’s a deal between the House and Senate on the casino bill. DeLeo wants slots at the racetracks (aka slot parlors) and the Senate wanted, well, none.
The deal would authorize three resort casinos and would allow the state’s four racetracks to compete for two slot parlor licenses. The deal does not meet Governor Deval Patrick’s demands. He said Thursday he would accept creation of one slot parlor as part of the expanded gambling bill, if legislators agreed to break a legislative logjam on Beacon Hill.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who initially wanted slot licenses for each of the four tracks, had recently signaled he would accept two slot parlors, with the racetracks given a preference in the bidding, the Globe has reported.
While I disagree with the whole damn bill (it’s junk, it’ll only harm us in the long run, there is no such thing as free money), I certainly am against any slot parlors. I am really certainly against a no-bid or easy-bid contract for the racetracks to get them as a preference. But of course, that’s what DeLeo wants. I’ll be charitable and say it’s because he has some racetracks in his constituency - though it is pretty plain this is more than just saving a mere handful of jobs (and I do mean mere handful).
So, I hope the Governor stands firm - no deal if there are no-bid or preferential-bid contracts in the mix. My personal fave outcome here would be, of course, for a dead bill, and there is only roughly 36 hours left in the legislative session. But that’s not the only reason I do not want the Governor to give in here. I think it’s wrong to start handing out giant no-bid or restricted-bid contracts at all, especially to an industry which is linked to some of the worst sorts of abuses and ethical problems in the state.
By the way, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO’s stand on this is super shortsighted. If you want real jobs, casinos are so not the way to go. It all looks good on paper in the short run, but the degradation of the local economy around casinos will kill more jobs that the whole shebang creates. (Ask the restaurants and other entertainment venues around Atlantic City’s casinos.) It also kills opportunity for venues like the Lowell Summer Music Series to attract acts, since they can’t compete with the casinos on artist salaries. The venues out near Connecticut already have problems with this - we want to create more?
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