The Massachusetts legislature might allow casinos to serve alcohol for an extra two hours, from 2 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The House Ways and Means committee submitted the proposal as a part of the outside section of the state budget. It would give the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the final say about extending alcohol service for those "actively engaged in gambling" during those hours.

The Chairman of the Commission said he and its members have not yet decided which side they'd come down if the proposal passed.

"We'll take whatever power the legislature wants to give us; it's immaterial to us, and we're totally agnostic at this point on the issue," said Chairman Steve Crosby. "If the legislature gives us the authority, we will look at it and make a decision."

Supporters of the proposal say it will give the Commission the opportunity to keep casinos competitive, as later closing times could draw in customers who otherwise might not have come.

Opponents have a long list of concerns: drunk driving, a cost to local bars, and a slippery slope of loosening regulations on the casino industry in the state.

Recent publications have also highlighted the use of drink vouchers as leverage to lure elderly people and gambling addicts back to the casino.

Crosby said concerns about public disturbances caused by later last calls shouldn't concern Massachusetts residents.

"We have state troopers, we have gaming agents, we have the casino security people, we have cameras everywhere, so if you want to misbehave while you're drinking, a casino is not the place to do it," said Crosby.

He said casinos operate under the same rules as bars regarding over-serving patrons, except casino rules are "much more rigorous" because of all the security.

"They can lose their license just like any other bar can if they over-serve people," Crosby said.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg, a Democrat, has come down against the proposal, and the only operating casino in the state, Plainridge Park Casino, expressed its indifference through a spokesperson to The Sun Chronicle.

Wynn Resorts, a company building a casino in Everett, has said it supports the proposed change.

Steve Crosby is the Chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. To hear his interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.