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Mass. Senate Eyes Gambling Jackpot In Casino Bill

Massachusetts lawmakers are estimating three proposed casinos would generate up to $1.8 billion in gambling revenues each year and add 12,000 jobs to economy.

Massachusetts would receive a quarter of those revenues — up to $450 million a year — under a bill (PDF) released by the state Senate Friday.

In a major change from an earlier version, one of the three casinos would no longer be guaranteed for an Indian tribe.

“(Tribes) can compete,” said Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst. “And if they do, they have to demonstrate how they’re not going to disrupt the gaming market upon receipt of land trust in the future.”

As with the upper chamber's earlier version, the bill does not include slot machines at the state's four racetracks, which were included in the House's version of the legislation.

Rosenberg says slot machines would siphon money from casinos.

“We are best served in the commonwealth by having three resort-style casinos and not dividing up the market into the many smaller pieces that can cannibalize casinos,” Rosenberg said.

But opposing Senate Democratic leadership — and Gov. Deval Patrick — Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, says he'll propose bringing slot machines back into the bill.

“It’s something that we’re exploring to generate revenue from this whole thing sooner rather than later,” Tarr said. “It’s something that should be included in this bill.”

For proposed casinos in eastern and southeastern Massachusetts, owners would have to commit at least $600 million in capital costs and pay a $75 million fee.

For a proposed western Massachusetts casino, owners would pledge at least $400 million in capital costs and a $50 million fee.

If there are more than one eligible proposal in a region, the state would hold an auction.

This program aired on June 18, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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