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July 30, 2010

To Gov Patrick: NO No-Bid Contracts for ANY Track

by at 12:26 pm.

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?

2 Responses to “To Gov Patrick: NO No-Bid Contracts for ANY Track”

  1. waittilnextyr Says:

    This will be a test of wills today - let’s see who gives in, if anybody.

  2. K-R-S Says:

    a short statement from DP tonight on the Gaming issue:
    Statement of Governor DEVAL PATRICK

    BOSTON – Saturday, July 31, 2010 – The following is a statement from Governor Deval Patrick.

    “The decision we make to expand gaming in Massachusetts will impact our state for decades. We have to get it right. Destination resort casinos will bring thousands of new jobs and increased economic development. Slots parlors will not. That is why I proposed licensing up to 3 destination resort casinos, and chose not to include slots parlors in my original bill.

    ”I believe that the bill before the Legislature provides for more licenses than the market can bear, and will therefore not produce the job creation and economic benefits that destination resort casinos would provide. In addition, the inclusion of two slots facilities for the tracks brings social costs without the benefits, and amounts to a “no-bid” contract for the track owners. I have been clear from the beginning that is not something I can accept.

    “I have proposed a compromise that provides for one slots facility in addition to destination resorts, so long as that competition for that license is open and transparent. The Legislature has so far rejected that compromise.

    ”If the Legislature insists on sending me their gaming bill in its current form without addressing these concerns, I will send it back for amendment. The amendment will largely be the full text of the destination resort casino bill passed by the Senate last month, which is similar to and based on the legislation I filed in 2008.

    ”This amendment keeps faith with my convictions about the best long-term interests of the Commonwealth and with our shared interest in job creation. I hope the Legislature will see their way to enact the amendment. However, if the House and Senate choose to send back a bill with two slots facilities and without a truly open and competitive licensing process, I will veto that measure.

    “Whether we ultimately agree on a gaming bill or not, it is imperative to the people of the Commonwealth that we see final action on the other pending measures that will expand job opportunities and on which there is support in both houses. Bills are ready for final action to promote further economic growth, to gain access to credit and lower health insurance premiums for small businesses, to reform our broken CORI system and enable former offenders to get back into the job market, and to lower energy costs by enabling more wind power. They all deserve favorable action before the Legislature adjourns tonight.”

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