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Mass. Lawmakers Unveil New Gaming Bill

Legislative leaders have unveiled a new proposal to bring expanded gaming to Massachusetts.

A gaming bill released Tuesday would allow the state to license three resort casinos and one slot parlor and establishes guidelines for the bidding process.

Licenses for casinos would start at $85 million and bidding for the slot parlor license would start at $25 million.

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The bill also sets aside one of the casino contracts for a federally recognized Indian tribe.

This latest proposal comes after closed-doors negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Deval Patrick to reach a deal.

“If done right, expanded gaming in Massachusetts can create jobs, generate new revenue, and spur other economic growth in the state," Patrick said in a statement. "The bill ... places appropriate limits on the expansion of gaming, requires open and transparent bidding, maintains a voice for local communities, and provides resources to address public health and safety – all principles I have insisted be a part of any gaming bill I support.”

"[O]ur goal to pass a bill that is responsible to the public and does what is best for our economic interests," said Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo in a joint statement Tuesday. "We support this bill and believe that it provides a strongly regulated and commercially desirable framework for establishing a gaming industry in Massachusetts."

Fitchburg Rep. Stephen Dinatale said he's happy to see progress after similar legislation failed last year over the issue of whether to allow slot machines at racetracks.

"I'm pleased that we're moving along with this, that we're advancing that whole concept of expanded gaming. I think it's a good thing for the commonwealth and I hope that we do get to consensus and pass a bill," Dinatale said.

Murray and DeLeo have said they expect gambling to be debated by lawmakers after Labor Day.

Worthington Rep. Stephen Kulik says he wants the full Legislature to work on making sure the revenue will go into state coffers, not just casino bank accounts.

"We're thinking, obviously, about the potential to create jobs in Massachusetts and the economic spinoff of that, and what that means in terms of revenue to the commonwealth," Kulik said.

In his statement, Patrick also urged legislative action on pension reform and health care cost containment. Last year, some criticized Beacon Hill for grinding to a halt in the ultimately failed effort to pass gambling legislation.

With reporting from The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

-- Here's the 155-page bill (on Scribd):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/62922524/0823-Gambling-Bill

This program aired on August 23, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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