Lawmakers Set To Discuss Gambling BillPlay
As summer comes to a close, the gambling issue is heating up again on Beacon Hill.
At the State House Tuesday, House Democrats caucus to consider a bill that would bring three resort-style casinos and a slot parlor to Massachusetts. Full House debate is expected Wednesday.
Unlike in past discussions of expanding gambling in Massachusetts, most observers expect the legislation to pass, according to Craig Sandler, the general manager of the State House News Service.
"In the earlier iterations of this, it's always been really nail-biting. It's always been really contentious," Sandler told Morning Edition's Bob Oakes. "This is a little less fun, frankly, for people in the building, because you can recognize the signs when nearly everyone is on board."
In the past, casinos have faced an uphill political battle. This time, however, indications are that the main state political power brokers are all on the same page.
"The fact is, this was very carefully discussed by the leading players, the most influential players, well before it saw the light of day," Sandler said.
If the bill speeds through the Legislature, it will only be in relative terms. Lawmakers have attached 154 amendments to the bill, so the legislation is not yet in its final stage.
Many of the amendments have to do with how money from the casinos would be divided up and what kind of oversight law enforcement will have over the gambling operations.
One big sticking point, Sandler said, might be the Lottery.
"The Lottery is the main revenue engine for local aid," Sandler said. "Obviously, for state representatives, protecting streams of revenues to local communities — education, public safety and roads — is crucial."
The House Ways and Means Committee recommended the casino bill for debate and a floor vote last Tuesday, clearing a key hurdle in the legislative process.
This program aired on September 13, 2011.