A casino bill is being finalised in Boston, Massachusetts that will see the arrival of three resort-style casinos and a slot parlour in the state.
A committee of six lawmakers is currently tying up the gambling bill, which consolidates the House and Senate-passed versions of the legislation.
Chairman of the Legislature’s Economic Development Committee, Joe Wagner expects to have the bill filed with the House Clerk’s office before a self-imposed 8pm deadline on Monday 21.
He said: “We’re very close and it’s my expectation that we will likely get it done [by Monday]. We’ll have a bill on the floor of the House [Tuesday] and then to the governor.”
According to Wagner, here’s what the bill will cover:
- A “Happy Hour amendment”, that allows bars and restaurants to sell discounted alcoholic drinks will be part of the final bill.
- A Senate amendment that prohibits lawmakers from taking a job in the gaming industry after leaving office for a one year “cooling-off period”
- Springfield will get a citywide vote to approve a proposed casino if municipal leaders opt out of the standard “ward vote,” which only permits the ward where a casino is proposed to vote.
Wagner added: “If it’s important to the city that it be a citywide vote, as, I understand, it is in Springfield, the city council and mayor can cause that to happen.”
While passage of the casino bill is probable, casino opponents argue that the fight isn’t over as cities and towns may have an opportunity to vote on whether they want a casino in their neighbourhood (even though this poll clearly states that they do).
Second Suffolk District representative, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, said: “A majority of people in Massachusetts have said that while even though they may support casinos state-wide, that when they’re asked ‘do you want a casino in your city or in your town?’ that a majority of Massachusetts residents say, ‘no, I don’t’.”
However, Wagner said there isn’t much disagreement between the six-member committee of lawmakers that is drafting the bill because the House and Senate versions are pretty much identical.