Finegold: I Won't Support Casino Gambling Bill
State senator breaks ranks with Democratic leadership, governor to oppose bill.
State Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, says he will vote against a bill that would allow the construction of three casinos and a slots parlor in Massachusetts.
The bill, which is supported by Gov. Deval Patrick, was overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives last week, 123-32, in a largely partisan vote.
The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on the bill Monday (Sept. 26). More than 180 amendments have already been filed for consideration.
"I just don't think the economics of this bill are as good as people think they are," said Finegold. "We have the most successful lottery in the country, generating over a billion dollars a year. The state takes in 23 cents on the dollar. It will be more like four cents on the dollar with gaming."
Finegold also said he didn't believe the job-creation being connected to casino gambling by advocates would be as strong as some believe.
State Rep. Paul Adams, R-Andover, agrees with Finegold and voted against the bill on the House floor. Adams referred to casino gambling as a "money-grab" and a "special interests giveaway." He said there are better ways to generate economic growth in the state.
"We need to lower tax rates and change policies to encourage businesses to expand and come into the state," he said.
Adams also pointed out that Native American Tribes have the option of working through the Federal Government to open a casino in Massachusetts and don't need this legislation.
State Rep. Jim Miceli, D-Wilmington, countered that the federal approval process takes considerably longer. Miceli is the only member of the local legislative delegation to support the bill. But he admitted that his enthusiasm is tempered.
"There are are problems with the bill," said Miceli. "But we are in a depression right now. And this is the only vehicle out there right now to generate some new revenues and to create some new jobs."
Miceli said that despite Finegold's opposition, he believes supporters of the bill have enough votes in the Senate to pass it overwhelmingly.