Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Massachusetts House Speaker Doubtful Over Gambling Bill This Year

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Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said today that he is "doubtful" a gambling bill will be approved this year, an act that would require the state legislature to reconvene in a special session to either pass an amendment acceptable to the governor or to get two-thirds of the legislators to vote to overide the governor's veto.

Deleo blames Governor Deval Patrick for an unwillingess to compromise and Gov. Patrick blames Deleo and the legislature for passing a gambling bill that allows no-bid slot parlors at two of the state's racetracks. Gov. Patrick said yesterday that he would sign a gambling bill if it slot parlors at the racetracks was removed.

In a meeting with Boston Globe reporters Deleo said, "I like to keep out hope, but at this point, I can't say I'm optimistic."

The state Senate and House approved a bill on Saturday - the last day of their two-year legislative session - that calls for three resort casinos and slot parlors at two of the state's racetracks but the governor refused to sign the bill into law.

The longer the dispute over new gambling legislation lingers the better the chance that an Indian casino could be the first casino to open in Massachusetts. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe - the two federally recognized tribes located within the borders of Massachusetts could build casinos under federal Indian law even if the state doesn't legalize casino gambling. But the tribes would need to overcome various hurdles.

One hurdle common to both tribes is last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that seemingly prevents, under most circumstances, the U.S. Interior Department from taking land into trust as reservation land. The court decision would be a non-factor if the tribes just started building casinos on their existing reservations now. Other legal hurdles would spring up, especially for the Aquinnahs, but it Indian casinos in Massachusetts in the near future is a possibilty.