Nov. 22, 2011
BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick signed a historic measure Tuesday authorizing three resort casinos and one slot machine parlor in Massachusetts.
The signing, which took place in the governor's office, was a rather subdued event — in contrast to years of sometimes bitter disputes over the issue.
When Gov. Patrick first proposed casinos in 2007, then–House Speaker Sal DiMasi waged a 2-year campaign to stop the measure. He used his sway over the chamber to block any approval of casinos, claiming the “casino culture” had no place in Massachusetts.
Patrick said on Nov. 22 that while he respected those who have moral objections to casino gambling, he was not among them.
“There is gaming within 90 minutes of most residents of the Commonwealth right now. Most folks don’t even notice when they cross state lines. There’s a way to do this that will not and does not compromise the character of the Commonwealth, which I think is what most people are worried about,” he said.
The way was cleared after DiMasi was felled by public scandal. His successor, Robert DeLeo, has fought for more gambling in the Bay State ever since he became speaker. He said the measure will create thousands of jobs.
"I knew that we had to get this bill done to get people back to work. When you hear of unemployment rates of 40, 50, 60 percent at some of the union halls throughout the state, that’s why I’m proud to be here today," DeLeo said.
The governor, attorney general and treasurer must now appoint a five-member gaming commission that will choose among applicants for casino licenses. Developers will also need to win approval from host communities. Observers say the first casinos could be up and running within 3 to 5 years with a slots facility open even sooner.
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