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Mass. Lawmakers OK 3-Casino Bill

This article is more than 11 years old.

Massachusetts lawmakers have approved a compromise bill designed to license up to three resort-style casinos and a single slots parlor.

The House voted 118-33 Tuesday afternoon to accept the final version of the bill. The Senate quickly followed, approving the bill on a 23-14 vote.

Before the vote, Rep. Ruth Balser, of Newton, spoke against the bill.

"We know that there will be an increase in the number of people who suffer from addiction as a result of this action that we take today," Balser said.

Each chamber must take a final procedural vote Tuesday before shipping the bill to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk. The governor will have 10 days to act on the measure.

Patrick says he's generally supportive of the final bill, but is concerned about changes made to how some of the casino revenues will be spent.

"I don't think any of them are show-stoppers, but we're going to work with the Legislature and see if we can get some of that sorted out," Patrick said.

The governor indicated he's unlikely to veto the bill because of the concern, but left the door open that he may return the bill to the Legislature, asking them to reallocate some of the funds.

The final bill drops a Senate amendment that could have eased restrictions on happy hours at bars and restaurants. The bill would allow casinos to offer free drinks on the gaming floor.

It also bars state lawmakers and officials from working in the casino industry for at least one year after leaving office.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo defended the independent commission that would decide who gets casino licenses, saying it's not too powerful.

"No, because it's independent," he said. "I think you have to have someone to give the authority to, to make those difficult, independent decisions."

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This article was originally published on November 15, 2011.

This program aired on November 15, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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