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Casino Supporters, Opponents Make Their Case On Beacon Hill

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The focus turns to casino gambling and slot machines on Beacon Hill Tuesday, as both supporters and opponents of gaming make their case at the State House.

In the morning, lawmakers will hear from a coalition of casino supporters calling itself The Massachusetts Partnership for Responsible Gambling. They will present a series of recommendations they claim will make the state a national leader in responsible gambling policy.

"There are ways to do this so that you promote responsible gambling, so that you minimize the impact for the small number of people for whom this is a problem," said Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle, who will be among those making a presentation to the lawmakers.

"This is a real industry that produces significant jobs, revenue and tourism benefits," Tuttle added, "all of which the state desperately needs right now."

Later in the afternoon, gambling opponents plan to hold a news conference to present their economic findings countering those claimed by gambling supporters.

"What we really need to be looking at is the fact that the industry is a something-for-nothing scheme," said Kathleen Conley Norbut, of the group United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts. "Essentially, it takes monies, discretionary income and sometimes money that people really don't have to play, and funnels it out of the state to the investors and developers."

Legislation to legalize casino gambling or slot machines at Massachusetts racetracks has gathered support on Beacon Hill after House Speaker Robert DeLeo indicated last year he is in favor of a gambling bill. DeLeo is expected to release his version of a casino/slots bill sometime next month.

This program aired on February 9, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.