Nothing doing – Petty politics dooms casino legislation

The shame in this whole affair of trying to expand gaming in Massachusetts is that the state legislature and governor refused to see past petty politics and egos and missed an opportunity to pass the one thing everyone in government wanted — three resort casinos in the state.

Only in Massachusetts could something like this happen. Only here, in a state that is so decisively ruled by one party law could such infighting cause the one thing that was supposed to create jobs to be sacrificed for the sake of racinos.

Speaker Robert DeLeo wanted two slot parlors at state racetracks, but Governor Deval Patrick wanted none. Patrick came around and extended an olive branch to DeLeo and said he’d accept one racino. DeLeo tried to show him who the boss is and said ‘no, I want two’ and waited for the governor to blink.

The governor took all the racinos off the table and said he was ‘done’.

Now the legislature has to show that it’s serious about passing a gaming bill and put petty politics aside — perhaps even take racinos off the table until January and pass a gaming bill.

One lawmaker said that he’d hate to see the House cut off their nose to spite their face and said the difference between two slot licenses and one is zero.

Senator Anthony Petruccelli said he was willing to suspend the rules in order to come back into the State House and discuss what has been placed in front of the body by the governor because the issue has too much value for the people that he represents.

“I am very comfortable supporting no racinos because the alternative is nothing,” said Petruccelli. “The governor was very clear a few days back when he said he’d support one slot license, I believed him, I’m not sure why other members did not.”

Petruccelli said too much effort has been put into this bill to simply walk away from it this late in the game.

“Without a gaming bill we do not get the jobs, the local aid to cities and towns, the much needed infrastructure improvements in places like East Boston and Revere.”

Petruccelli said being a leader is having the ability to see past ones own nose and making something happen for the thousands of unemployed residents in the state. He hopes the legislature begins to see the prize he has seen for quite sometime in the form of three resort-style casinos.

“This bill was going to have endless opportunity for host communities to have a voice and shape the way casinos came into their backyards,” said Petruccelli. “Places like Suffolk Downs would have to go through a process with the gaming commission and the community and pitch their ideas and I was prepared for an exciting and open dialogue with the potential licensees.”

Petruccelli’s colleague in the House, Representative Carlo Basile is of a different opinion and stands behind the bill the Speaker touted.

“I stand behind putting two racinos in Massachusetts 100 percent,” said Basile. “This would have brought immediate relief to cities and towns because resort-style casinos were going to take 2-3 years to build. In six months slots could have been up and running in the state.”

Basile added that its a shame the legislature and governor brought it to the one yard line and then fumbled the ball because the only people that are going to lose are the unemployed workers that need jobs.

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