Gambling at the 3/4 pole

The fate of casino gambling in Massachusetts has come down to the wire, with House and Senate conferees working to reach agreement before the July 31st deadline. With the closer deadline comes the possibility of a conference agreement that could be vetoed by Governor Patrick with no chance of a legislative override due to the end of session. Patrick has expressed his opposition to slots at the tracks, which Speaker Deleo has insisted be part of a final bill. Rep. Brian Dempsey, the lead House negotiator, played down the Governor’s potential role in the final outcome: From the State House News Service:

“I think we’re certainly mindful of various concerns, but I think the conference is clearly between the House and the Senate and we are focused on reconciling the differences between the two branches, and we’ll go from there.”

Democratic leaders are facing political pressure from the trade unions, who are threatening to sit out the November election cycle if a bill is not signed into law.

“If something doesn’t get done, I think it’ll be viewed, certainly by me and I think by our membership, as more than a missed opportunity,” said Frank Callahan, president of the Mass. Building Trades Council. “I think it’d be extremely difficult to get our members involved. I think they’d throw their hands up in frustration.”

A group of twelve Mayors has weighed in, sending a letter of support for the House version, which promises to get the locals additional local aid quickly, based on the more immediate financial results from race track slots. (I did not sign that letter.)

The impetus for a bill seems strong, but the clock is running down. Senator Baddour, on the radio program I hosted last week, indicated that he believed an agreement could be reached. Senator Steve Pangiotakos has expressed similar optimism. Who was it that said that in matters of gaming, “The House always wins”????

Should there be resort style casinos, and should the tracks get slots? What do you think?

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