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With half of the slots revenue to be given to education, schools around Maryland have the most to lose if the slots plan does not proceed according to the wishes of the legislators. Such was the present situation on February 13th, 2009 as the chief of the Maryland commission tasked to award the slots licenses to winning bidders, received six bids for a mere 6,550 slot machines at five facilities. That is below the 15,000 slot machines that the voters allowed during the November 2008 general elections.
A fewer number of slot machines would mean less funding for the Education Trust Fund, which could leave the pro-slots supporters scrambling to solve the issue. Increasing the aid given to Maryland schools was one of the vital selling points for the expanded gambling proposal. Gaming analysts stated that Maryland would receive 90 million dollars from licensing costs on 2009-which would then be given to the Education Trust Fund.
A lobbyist for the Maryland State Teachers Association, Bob Rankin stated that one of the main concerns is that the slots proposal did put $90 million dollars in Maryland's 2009 state budget. Slot machine bidders are required to pay up $3 million every 500 slot machines. The overall number of slot machines that are requested by the bidders would only contribute $39.3 million in licensing fees. Two of the slot machine bids that were submitted for Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County and the Rocky Gap State Park did not clearly state the cost with their slots gambling proposals because of lingering concerns on a zoning problem in Anne Arundel that could have a significant effect on slots parlors and the high tax rate.
A considerable number of area legislators believe that permitting slot machines or casino gaming could be a sure way for the state of Massachusetts to hit the big time, relieving significant financial stress from the state. They stated that the reception on Beacon Hill are beginning to warm to the idea of expanded gambling and point to House Speaker Robert DeLeo's decision to schedule a hearing in September 2009 on the gaming measure as a good sign.
DeLeo, who became House Speaker earlier this year, has stated that he is willing to gaming bill than his predecessor, former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. The new leadership in Beacon Hill, combined with the weak economy that has caused the state to produce revenue, may have changed the climate.
State Representative James Fagan, (Democrat-Taunton) said on July 25th, 2009 that the current economic situation in the state has caused a number of lawmakers who were previously hesitant to support gaming or mildly oppose to gaming to evaluate their positions.
Some state legislators say that a proposal permitting slot machines at the Massachusetts horse racing tracks could also be good for the area, allowing not horse racing tracks but dog racing tracks to stay afloat as well.
Throughout the past years of dropping attendance, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park proprietor George Carney has advocated for expanded gambling in Massachusetts, a decision that would permit to set-up a slot machine parlor, or a full casino facility in Raynham.
Although officials from the surrounding area generally support Carney's cause, gambling proposals have gained little leverage in the past on Beacon Hill, especially in the House.
State Senator Marc Pacheco (Democrat-Taunton) and State Representative David Flynn (Democrat-Bridgewater), the Dean of the House of Representatives; have supported expanded gambling over the past several years. Flynn estimates that slot machines would produce a total of $400 million for the state in licensing fees.
Critics maintained that the dog are treated well and argued that the two dog racing tracks in the state are vital components of their host areas economies. Raynham selectman Joseph Pacheco said that the town currently earns $413,000 as a total percentage of the dog racing track's handle. The number was more than double that during the heyday of the racing facility.
Fagan said that in the current financial recession, state revenues for July are falling short of the projections. He said that he would not be surprise to see Governor Deval Patrick decide on another round budget cuts this fall.
Fagan added that although economic problems seem to be causing more officials to evaluate passing gambling legislation as a way to solve revenue problems, he realized that some of his colleagues in the House are still opposed to gambling proposals.
Legalized gaming has gained considerable leverage over the past few years in public opinion polls but a number of organizations such as the Massachusetts Council of Churches and the Massachusetts Family Institute have voiced their criticism to expanded gaming.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, rekindling on what is sure to be a contentious issue, will outline his plan for expanded gambling on March 6th, 2010, stating that the state should allow both slot machines at horse racing tracks and resort-style casino facilities.
In a speech regarding job creation before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, DeLeo will propose that Massachusetts sell licenses to developers of casinos and slot machines. A portion of the slots and casino revenue would be alloted to a special fund that will help Massachusetts manufacturers with substantial investments, with the goal of helping struggling employers stay open and encourage others to invest in the state.
It was not clear how specific Speaker DeLeo will be regarding his gambling proposal. The speaker plans to sponsor a bill in the House within the next few weeks. His speech before the Chamber of Commerce promises to kick off talks on a contentious ssue that could dominate the spring discussions at the State Housem in the midst of another difficult budget and election year.
DeLeo-a Democrat from Winthrop who district includes two horse racing travks, Suffolk Downs in Boston and the Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere-has been a long longtime advocate of permitting slot machines at the horse racing tracks. He has indicated for weeks that he plans to include slot machines as part of the House's gaming bill.
But that will put him at odds with Governor Deval Patrick, who has been wary of slot machines and prefers resort-style casinos. However, Gov. Patrick has not said definitively that he would veto a gambling bill that allows slot machines at horse racing tracks.
Gov. Patrick's spokesman said on March 4th, 2010 that they would not comment on Speaker DeLeo's proposal because they had not seen the plan. Senate President Therese Murray has been open to expanded gaming but skeptical of slot machines at horse racing tracks, which opponents say do not help in creating new jobs. It was Gov. Patrick who first pushed for expanded gambling in 2007 as an option to get some of the revenue that supporters say that states with casino facilities, like Connecticut, get from gamblers in Massachusetts.
Gov. Patrick proposed constructing three casinos in the state, a plan that the governor said would produced $450 million in additional revenue, twenty thousand new jobs and $2 billion in economic activity. But the House Speaker at that time-Salvatore F. DiMasi, a staunch gaming critic-led the charge by which the House dismissed the plan, by a 108-46 vote in March 2008.
DiMasi had argued that casinos would just affect other tourists destinations in the state. Since then, Gov. Patrick has backed off from the plan, allowing lawmakers to take the lead in creating a new gaming proposal.
DeLeo's plan is another sure sign that DiMasi's resignation from the Massachusetts House has significantly changed the political landscape on Beacon Hill and improved the chances that casino gambling will be allowed in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts legislators will begin discussing a bill that would permit two resort-style casino establishments in the state and 750 slot machines at the state's four horse racing tracks on April 13th, 2010. House Speaker Robert DeLeo(D) will try to convince dozens of state legislators this week to support expanded gaming in the Bay State.
Speaker DeLeo's gaming plan would allow two resort-style casino facilities and would permit three thousand slot machines at the racing tracks. The proposal goes before the House on Tuesday. Middleboro has been the center of the state discussion over resort casinos.
As a result, opponents are wary of this latest initiative to legalize gaming. CasinoFacts.org President Frank Dunphy said that Speaker DeLeo's proposal is disguised as a jobs proposal. Two of Massachusetts four horse racing tracks are located in the district of Speaker DeLeo.
The House Speaker said that he thinks that they have an excellent plan and believes that with the help of the casinos and the slot machines, they can get the state going forward again. Two years ago, the Massachusetts House dismissed a plan of Gov. Deval Patrick that called for the construction of three casinos.
Gov. Patrick (D) still supports gaming but are not sure with slot machines. Despite what happens on Beacon Hill, the Wampanoag Indian tribe have a deal with Middleboro to construct a casino. Dunphy said that they have actually researched the cost of having a casino in the state and they have found out that the costs far outweight the rewards.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has now accomplished something that Governor Deval Patrick cannot say that he has done in his term in office. Speaker DeLeo convinced the state House to decide in favor of a gaming expansion bill that he is sponsoring.
House legislators voted overwhelmingly in favor of DeLeo's proposal on April 15th, 2010. The final tally of one hundred twenty-thirty-seven was more lopsided than some had been expecting it would be.
The gaming issue is usually an issue that inspires strong feelings and makes legislative talks interesting. Many of the legislators that voter in favor of the gaming proposal were previously opposed to expanded gambling and building resort casinos in the state. However, visit casino some of these legislators believe that times have changed and that it is the right time to introduce casino gambling in Massachusetts.
House Speaker DeLeo's proposal was to allow two casino resorts in the state. Aside from that, horse racing tracks would get the chance to manage a minimal number of slot machines. DeLeo believes that the slot machines will help the tracks attract additional business and stay open despite the economic crisis.
The slot machines are why Governor Deval Patrick is against the legislation. Gov. Patrick discussed a plan in 2008 that would have introduced several casino resorts in Massachusetts. He does not believe that horse racing tracks should offer slot machines. Without the machines, the tracks could be headed towards financial meltdown.
The state Senate will now review the issue and it is not know how the talks in the Senate will turn out. Senate President Therese Murray agrees with Gov. Patrick on the issue.