Casino bill moves through MA legislature

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Sep 15, 2011 Posted in Legal Poker News, US Poker News | No Comments »

In an overwhelming vote on Wednesday the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a bill that would allow three mega-casinos to be licensed in the state as well as a single slots parlor. Even with 150 or so amendments to vote on, the legislature quickly passed the bill by an overwhelming, 123 to 32, and the bill will now make its way to the Senate where it is expected to pass.

A similar bill was passed in both houses last year, but was vetoed by Governor Deval Patrick who took issue with the exclusive slot machine licenses that would be granted to existing racetracks throughout the state.

One of the amendments that did make it into the final version of the bill was a proposal by Daniel Winslow (R-Norfolk) to license up to five online poker sites in Massachusetts. In the final version the gaming commission setup by the law will “analyze and develop model legislation for Internet Poker” according to the bostonherald.com.

Should the bill make its way through the Senate (which is expected), and then be signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick (also expected), Massachusetts would quickly jump to the front of the pack when it comes to states legalizing and regulating online poker. Even though actual online poker legislation would still be a ways off, Massachusetts would be the first Northeastern state to take a serious look into legalized online poker, and with a legislature and Senate overwhelming controlled by democrats the bill would stand a far better chance of passage than in the more ‘purple’ state of New Jersey or Nevada.

As it stands, the bill would allow the state to start taking bids for three casinos with a minimum bid of $85 million for each license, and requires the developers to invest a further $500 million or more into the property. Licenses will be issued by a separate gaming commission that will be created as part of the bill. The specifications for the single slot parlor license are an initial bid of $25 million as well as a $125 million investment into the property.

Currently, two spots are considered the frontrunners for licenses: One would be in the town of Milford, MA where developer David Nunez has already entered into an exclusive agreement with the town for a swath of land between Interstate 495 and the Mass Turnpike. The second spot would be in western Massachusetts in the town of Palmer, where the Mohegan Sun group owns a large amount of undeveloped land.

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