House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s expanded gambling bill was released to the public and voted on a day later by a House committee that reported it to the floor of the House for further action.
That action is expected next week and if all goes according to the script, the expanded gambling bill will be passed and sent over to the senate for a full airing.
It is difficult to know the exact mind of the state senate except to predict that it will make and or take some exceptions to the House bill as it fashions a final document of its own which it will pass and send on to the governor for his signature.
DeLeo’s bill was a tour de force for the speaker from Winthrop and formerly of East Boston.
It was widely accepted as well thought out and well designed, touching virtually all the important bases and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to expanding gambling in Massachusetts and making provision for the public trust to be insured and for the general public around the casino and throughout the state to be provided for adequately.
The bottom line provides for two casinos to be licensed and for the state’s four tracks to be allowed to run slot machine operations.
For the right to gain a casino license, $200 million will be required as a licensing fee up front, cash money, given to the state and then distributed back under the guidance and direction of the DeLeo bill.
If two casino licenses are given out, the state will gain $400 million.
If the four tracks take the slots, they need to ante up $75 million each – or another $300 million to the state treasury.
There is some question about whether or not all four tracks are interested in acquiring slot machines or even that all four tracks could afford to pay the licensing fee.
It is also believed that Suffolk Downs is much more interested in gaining a casino license than a slot machine license.
Add to this the belief that the senate is not as inclined to allow slot machines as the House and that this might be the defining difference between the House version of the bill and the certain to be changed Senate version when all is said and done.
Speaker DeLeo has done the right thing with this House bill.
He has acted with savvy and professionalism and he shows that he understands the economic impact of what it is the bill is seeking to do.
East Boston is protected by this bill – and it is likely will gain even more as the senate goes about its work.
Casino gambling has taken a giant step toward become a reality.