Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray have chosen the three members of their respective parts of the legislature to work on reconciling the differences between the House and Senate’s gambling bills. There’s a lot of talk about Central Massachusetts locations, including Charlton, Milford and Marlborough, but based on who’s on the list, the chances of having a casino in our region is pretty slim.
The senate bill divides the state into three zones, allowing one casino in each and no slot machines. (The house bill only has two zones, but calls for plenty of slots.) The way the zones are drawn Worcester and Boston are in the same zone. That’s bad news for people who want a casino here because DeLeo and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino want Suffolk Downs/Wonderland as a casino site in East Boston. Limiting Central Massachusetts’ sway even more is only one local representative or senator made the cut: Rep. Paul Frost (R-Auburn).
Here’s a rundown of who’s in the commitee and how some of them may factor into the casino discussions:
Appointed by Robert DeLeo:
Rep. Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill)
Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere)–Her district has a horse racing track that many want to see converted to a slot machine haven
Rep. Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn)–The only one of the six representing Central Massachusetts. If he wants a casino out here, he’s going to to have his work cut out for him convincing the group that this area is a better fit for gaming than Boston.
Appointed by Therese Murray:
Sen. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham)–Like Reinstein, his district has a race track that would like to add slots
Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos (D-Lowell)
Sen. Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst)
The biggest question that the committee has to deal with before any casino bidding can start is how to reconcile the bills. Many in the senate, including local Senator Harriette Chandler, don’t want to see slots because 1) they don’t add jobs and 2) they fear that the gambling market would be spread too thin. The committee has three and a half weeks to come to some reconciliation, and two members from the House and Senate sides of the committee have approve of the final bill.