Bets Are off!
The Hiller Instinct: Bets Are off!
Once again the house was not tempted by the lure of gambling or by arguments that expanding gambling would help the state avoid a tax hike with the head of the committee recommending against expansion, calling that a bad bet.
Rep. Daniel Bosley (D) North Adams
"It's kind of a false choice to say we have to raise revenues or we have to gamble. The fact of the matter is we do gamble, we take a lot of money out of people's pockets by gambling already, but that's existing gambling. To expand it would cost us more money than we make."
The key proposal would have brought slot machines to existing racetracks... Setting up four racinos and two new facilities, one in the Worcester County area and one in western Mass.
Representatives of the thoroughbred industry said slot machines are needed to save horse tracks.
Jeff Hooper, Horsemen's Benevolent Protective Assn.
"This becomes a critical issue to our horsemen, yes."
"Survive or go down?"
"Survive or go down."
After voting down racinos, full-blown casinos had no chance to win house passage and a proposal to authorize three resort casinos died. Gambling supporters insisted expansion would not hurt the state lottery…
Rep. Brad Jones (R) North Reading
"If people just wanted to use it as a way of generating additional local aid, all the money generated to support cities and towns, that would be an appropriate amendment along the way as well."
But the lottery had the winning argument…
Joe Sullivan, Exec. Dir. State Lottery
"There has been no clear analysis given to us in the treasury that in fact the lottery would not be negatively impacted."
Don't throw in your cards yet! There's still another hand to be played in the state Senate, where's there's more support for gambling than in the House. If the Senate says "yes," then the issue will be resolved in a budget conference committee months from now when more legislators may be desperate to raise revenues.