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Mass. Senate Launches Casino Gambling Debate

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate has ended its first day of debate on a contentious casino gambling bill, but an actual vote may not happen until next week.

Senators were able to make their way through 60 of 182 proposed amendments to the bill, which would allow three resort-style casinos and one slot parlor.

One of the amendments approved would require gaming license applicants to check the immigration status of all employees and contractor employees through the Department of Homeland Security.

Senators also backed an amendment prohibiting councils on aging from using state funds to sponsor trips to out-of-state casinos once new gambling facilities are established in Massachusetts.

Debate comes as a new poll suggests the gambling plan has the backing of a majority of state residents.

The poll by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth concludes that 56 percent of residents support the casino legislation, compared to 36 percent who oppose and 13 percent undecided.

“Over the last four years, it doesn’t matter how you ask the question, or what configuration of facilities you put forward, the support level remains, really, in the high 50 percents,” said Clyde Barrow, director of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis.

Sixty-one percent of people surveyed say they believe expanded gambling would increase tourism. Fifty-one percent say it would increase gambling addiction.

Casino backers say gambling halls will create 15,000 jobs and bring $300 million to $600 million in tax revenue to the state every year.

“And it also helps to bring home the players who are currently spending about $1.2 billion in surrounding states,” said Sen. Stan Rosenberg, of Amherst.

Critics have questioned the strength of the economic boost casinos are said to bring. They say social and economic costs, such as gambling addiction, outweigh any potential benefits.

“This is not going to be what we think it’s going to be, and then if we have 15 casinos and slot parlors in a 15-mile radius, I don’t see the numbers being there,” said Sen. Barry Finegold, of Lawrence.

The House overwhelmingly approved a casino bill earlier this month.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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  • CasinoMike

    After the behind closed door passage in the House, the Senate has three key objectives and without taking these steps, those critics who question the strength of the so-called economic boost the casino lobby claims will bring will be proved correct.  Moving forward the Senate must: 1)THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL SPECIAL PREFERENCE LANGUAGE NOT JUST FOR INDIAN GAMING, BUT LANGUAGE — WRITTEN BY LOBBYISTS — TO FAVOR ONLY ONE SMALL TRIBE;2)THE “WIDELY REPORTED ACCOUNTS SAY THAT A MALAYSIAN CRIME SYNDICATE NOW UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE US SENATE FOR FUNDING JIHADIST TERROR ORGANIZATIONS IN ASIA IS FUNDING THIS WHOLE OPERATION” W A BILL THAT STRIPS AWAY ANY PASSAGE WITHOUT A FULL AUDIT OF THOSE ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE FINANCIAL INTERESTS IN MASSACHUSETTS GAMING;3) DEMAND A VOICE VOTE ON FINAL PASSAGE AS WELL AS EACH OF THESE AMENDMENTS. THAT WAY WE WILL KNOW WHO STANDS FOR WHAT.

  • Frustrated1

    Massachusetts, can we let this happen to our state?!!  It’s gone too far, gambling is such a left field suggestion to bandaid our economic problem.  Where are the economic brains, think tank people?  There must be other answers. Our state is too beautiful, too interesting, to historically important to introduce this boisterous, crime-tempting, Las Vegas Scene.   Instead of a gaming resort, how about a creative resort destination that offers rides, but with those Disney/science museum/arts camp experiences –invent music and bring home its sheet music, enamel pendants, make fabric, freeze motion, walls that change color, zipline, physics stuff that you play with…with plenty of rides, too.  Increase tourism with region-wide treasure hunts and big prizes.   Maybe Mass should offer a $60 New England Fun Pass–people buy this and a kid goes free (with a paying adult) to each of the places who pay to be listed.  I’d rather see raised taxes and temporarily cut non-essential (like arts) programs than this unconnected idea  to bring in  casinos and gambling.  That’s not dealing with the problem!   We’re Spending too much…government is too big… and we’re bringing in too little?  How would you solve the government shortfall of money in Massachusetts? 

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