Tempered Expectations For Legalized Gambling

Massachusetts is adjusting its expectations as the state legislature considers legalizing gambling and approving construction of casinos.
by | September 20, 2011

Expectations have dropped dramatically since Massachusetts first proposed opening casinos four years ago. New legislation under consideration in Boston would cut license fees by more than 50 percent and lower the state's tax on revenues by 2 percent, the Cape Cod Times reports.

When Gov. Devan Patrick suggested legalizing gambling in 2007, Masschusetts would have charged $200 million for each casino license. Under a bill passed by the House last week, developers would pay $85 million. "What you have to remember is the original numbers set by the governor were when things were at their highest point," Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, the Senate's point man on casinos, told the Times.

Developers would also be expected to invest $500 million instead of the $1 billion proposed by Patrick before the recession. Projected revenue, however, has remained consistent -- $350 to 400 million annually -- but some anti-casino groups have called those numbers into question. Rosenberg stands behind their veracity, according to the Times.

Legalization in Massachusetts would also be felt in other New England states, particularly Rhode Island and Connecticut, border states with their own casinos. According to a University of Massachusetts study, a large percentage of gamblers in those states hail from Massachusetts. Those "convenience gamblers... would switch the next day if there's something closer to them," Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, told the Times.

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