Massachusetts: Legal battles continue (update)

Political attitudes harden in battle for the slot parlours

Legislative battles continued this week in Massachusetts as Governor Deval Patrick tried to defy the will of both House and Senate by refusing to approve slot parlours in conjunction with three land casinos.

Earlier this week the Governor suggested a compromise solution by limiting slot parlours to one, to be granted through an open and competitive process, but he has now withdrawn this and has instead sent the bill back to the Legislature, hardening political attitudes which will probably be reflected in upcoming elections.

Governor Patrick and state lawmakers have apparently now reached a stalemate, with the clock ticking as mid-term elections loom.

The House and Senate approved a bill allowing three casinos in Massachusetts and slot machines at two racetracks last weekend (see previous InfoPowa report), but now have to decide whether they are willing to come back in session and act on Patrick’s amended version, with each chamber requiring two-thirds of its members to agree before it can take any major action, reports the Boston Globe newspaper.

The House passed the bill with more than a two-thirds majority, and the Senate passed it just two votes shy of a two-thirds majority.

Senate President Therese Murray has said she will not call her members back into formal session, which would appear to kill the bill but leave political bitterness in its wake.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a strong supporter of the passed bill, reiterated this week that the Governor has effectively vetoed the will of the House and the Senate, and carries the blame for the breakdown.

"The governor is killing major legislation over 1 000 slot machines," DeLeo said. "With today’s amendment, he has backed away from even that [compromise] gesture of working together.’’

His opinion appeared to be shared by many other politicians, who criticised the governor.

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