A bill that would create two resort casinos and allow up to 750 slot machines at each of Massachusetts' four race tracks has cleared a key committee.
The joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies endorsed the gambling bill by a vote of 12-2 Monday, with five members reserving their rights and voting neither for nor against it. The bill was unveiled by House Speaker Robert DeLeo last week.
While official floor debate on the measure is slated for April 13, House lawmakers will discuss the bill in a closed-door, joint caucus Thursday afternoon. DeLeo said there would be no separate public hearing on the bill.
Supporters say the bill will boost the state economy by $1.7 billion a year, create 15,000 jobs and funnel $100 million a year back to cities and towns. Opponents warn of the social consequences of gaming and say casinos aren't an economic magic bullet.
Gov. Deval Patrick supports casinos, but opposes slots at race tracks.
The four race tracks that would receive slot machines are: Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park in Raynham and Plainridge Harness Racecourse in Plainville. Two of the four tracks are in DeLeo's district.
Two years ago, the same committee voted against a casino bill put forth by Patrick. At the time, before he was indicted on corruption charges, then-Speaker Salvatore DiMasi vehemently opposed the casino bill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This program aired on April 5, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.