Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
On Friday, State Senator Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) filed another casino bill to encourage debate over gaming at the start of the new legislative session.
According to Flanagan’s office this bill does have some differences from the senate bill filed last year, but despite the Central Massachusetts ties it does little to pave the way for a casino in Worcester County. In fact, just like last year, there are still some major hurdles to clear for that to happen.
In Flanagan’s version of the bill no smoking would be allowed, live racing sites wouldn’t receive bidding preference and there’s no mention of racinos. (A spokesperson from Flanagan’s office added this bill was filed “just to get conversation going” — they’re expecting to see changes from House and subcommittee deliberations.)
Like last year’s senate version, Flanagan’s bill sees the state divided into three zones, with Worcester County lumped into zone #2 along with Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex counties.
Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino have wanted to see Suffolk Downs chosen as a casino/racino site. A race track in Revere (also in Suffolk County) has surfaced as a casino location as well.
The one wrinkle in Flanagan’s bill that differs from last year’s senate version (and does help Worcester County’s chances) is that no preference will be given to already-operating racing sites. That means, theoretically, places like Suffolk Downs and the Revere site shouldn’t receive preference just because gambling already occurs there.
The six members of the gaming commission will also stay the same. As we’ve pointed out before, that doesn’t bode well for those who want to see a casino built in Central Massachusetts.