Sunday, December 9, 2007

Massachusetts Legislature Sets Hearing on Casinos

By Ken Davison

A high-profile gaming hearing will be held by the Massachusetts state legislature on December 18th to discuss Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed casino plan.

Donald Trump and the CEO of Harrah’s, Gary Loveman, are among the speakers invited to appear before the legislature’s committee on bond issues and capital assets. Other speakers will include three of Patrick’s cabinet secretaries, economic experts and the state’s revenue commissioner.

The governor announced in September that he wants the state to license three commercial casinos by 2012 but needs the state legislature’s approval. House Speaker Sal Dimasi (D-Boston) approved the committee’s hearing though he is opposed to gambling.

Even the two co-chairs of the committee holding the hearing have differences on gambling. One of the bonding committee’s co-chairs, Rep. David Flynn (D-Bridgewater) wants the legislature to vote on casinos in 2008 and not in 2009, as some lawmakers would prefer. The other co-chair of the committee, Sen. Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) told the Boston Globe, “It’s of no help to us if we get a sales pitch from casino interests with a little extra theater from Donald Trump.”

The Mohegan Tribe and their partners announced their desire for a $1 billion casino resort complex in western Massachusetts that would include 4,000 slot machines, a 600-room hotel and a giant retail center.

The Tribe signed an exclusive agreement with Northeast Realty and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, a developer of residential and office establishments, to seek one of the state’s proposed commercial casino licenses for a casino on 150 acres of land in Palmer, near the Massachusetts Turnpike in the western part of the state.

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