Suffolk Downs

Gaming legislation has a chance of springing back to life on Beacon Hill

Recent statements by the governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President lend themselves to the cautious belief that an expanded gambling bill has a chance of bringing back to life the dream of a casino at Suffolk Downs.

The governor has made it clear he would sign an expanded gambling bill if an when it was placed before him so long as it did not include slot machines given to track owners without a bid process in place.

In other words, the governor has said that if the House and the Senate could get their acts together to meet his policy mandate, the bill would receive his signature.

He also said he would not spend one minute debating the issue with the House and the Senate and that it was up to the leadership of both branches to get their acts together, put a proper bill into words and put it on the governor’s desk for his signature.

So far, the House and the Senate leadership have indicated that an expanded gambling bill will be placed on the agenda for this year’s session, earlier rather than later.

If the House and the Senate can get over the slot issue, there is the chance for thousands and thousands of new jobs, new life given to unemployed trades people, new business orders for machinery and equipment and building goods related to the construction of the new casino facility at Suffolk Downs.

At a time when the local economy continues to struggle, when so many trades people are out of work and so many others in the construction industry unemployed, an expanded gambling bill that ended with a casino at Suffolk Downs would be a big shot in the arm to the local economy.

It would also be politically correct for the House and Senate leadership to put slot machines in a secondary position and to favor instead an expanded gaming bill the governor will sign.

The governor has made it plain and clear.

He will sign a bill but he won’t debate with the House and Senate.

“They know what I want. Put it on my desk and I’ll sign it,” he has said.

All of this sounds as sweet as can be to those of us hoping for a resurrection of the expanded gaming bill and the virtual reopening of Suffolk Downs with a future attached to it and with many jobs to be given out.

It would be an incredible boost to the local economy, bigger than most people can imagine.

The effort to move ahead will grow as the House and Senate begin to deal with the harsh reality of the expected $1.5 billion state budget deficit.

The cities and towns can’t live with that.

In the end, Massachusetts will go for an expanded gaming bill.

This is going to happen – but we wouldn’t want to bet on it.

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