BOSTON (WWLP-AP) - Casino gambling is now legal in Massachusetts.
Tuesday morning, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill allowing the licensing of three resort-style casinos and a single slots parlor in Massachusetts.
Under the bill, which was passed by both houses of the Legislature, all proposals for the casinos would have to be reviewed by a five-member gaming commission, which has not yet been appointed. Patrick told WTKK-FM that there is the possibility that the gaming commission would only license a single casino at first, and then see how things progressed.
An emergency preamble in the bill allows the measure to take effect immediately; most bills once signed do not go into effect for 90 days. This will allow the gaming commission to be appointed as soon as possible. The task of appointing the commission will fall on Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Treasurer Steve Grossman.
During the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Patrick said that it would not be the solution to all of the state's economic problems, nor would it be the cause of all social ills. He acknowledged that a lot of his political support base is opposed to casino gambling, but he says that he is comfortable with casinos so long as they are done right. "Expanded gaming in Massachusetts, for me, is about creating jobs. Good jobs at good wages for people all across the Commonwealth," Patrick said.
Several sites in Western Massachusetts are under consideration for possible casino construction. Mohegan Sun owns land right off Mass Pike Exit 8 in Palmer, where they would like to build a casino. Hard Rock has announced that they want to develop a casino at the Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke, Ameristar Casinos has entered into an agreement to buy the former Westinghouse site in Springfield, and Palmer Paving Corporation President and CEO David Callahan is proposing that Brimfield should be selected as a new site for one of the casinos. There has also been discussion about developing a casino site in Chicopee.
Rep. Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee) told 22News that he estimates it would be about four years before a casino could be up and running in Western Massachusetts. He said that the process for a slots parlor would be faster; estimating that applications could be accepted in three to four months, and a parlor could be running by one year from now.
Casino opponents, however, have not given up hope in preventing gaming from becoming a reality. Several have suggested that they will try to get the issue on the state ballot next year.
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