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Mass. House Easily Passes Gambling Bill

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has approved a bill to bring casino gambling to the state.

Lawmakers voted 123-32 Wednesday night to endorse the bill that would authorize three resort-style casinos and one slots parlor. They rejected dozens of proposed amendments, including one that would require an independent cost-analysis of expanded gaming.

The bill would allow one casino in the eastern part of the state, another in southeastern Massachusetts and a third in western Massachusetts. The casinos would be taxed on 25 percent of their daily gaming revenue. One license would be set aside for a federallyrecognized Indian tribe.

Supporters say it will bring thousands of jobs and generate hundreds of millions in revenue for the state.

"The citizens of this commonwealth by large numbers support expanded gaming," said Democratic Rep. Joseph Wagner of Chicopee as he began the debate Wednesday afternoon.

Critics say the legislation ignores the social costs of gambling. Newton Democratic Rep. Ruth Balser called casinos a "race to the bottom" on the House floor Wednesday.

"Some say it's a source of entertainment, a legit business to grow our economy," Balser said. "I reject that. It is a predatory business exploiting the hopes and dreams of vulnerable people."

The bill now goes to the Senate.

With reporting by the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press

Earlier:

This program aired on September 14, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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