Casino Bill DOA; Bosley Looks Smart

About a month ago, word in the State House was that once Rep. Daniel Bosley helped tie up the loose ends on the life-sciences bill, his Economic Development Committee would finally take up Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed casino legislation. That happened on Valentine’s Day and the impending casino debate seemed like such a certainty that Bosley’s hometown paper, the Berkshire Eagle, erroneously reported that it would begin the next week. (They’ve taken the article down since, but trust us, this link used to go to the report).

At the time, the pro-casino forces had momentum. Rep. Brian Wallace, the House’s biggest casino cheerleader, said that he’d won over 12-15 representatives who were previously going to vote against the bill, and the Herald even photoshopped up a nifty picture of a poker-playing Patrick raking in chips. Though Wallace was sure Bosley’s committee would give the casino bill a negative report, he still felt confident the Governor’s proposal would receive a full and fair hearing in the House.

“We have to debate this,” he said to me last month. “There’s no way around this now now. It’s taken on a life of it’s own.”

A lot’s changed in a month.

Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi laid the smack-down on wavering reps (this may or may not have involved water boarding) and with the “debate” set to begin on the casino bill tomorrow, the thing has only a slightly better chance of passing than Eliot Spitzer has of being elected president with Jim McGreevey as his running mate. In case you needed any reassurance, check out this excerpt from an AP story that ran yesterday.

But Wallace isn’t holding out much hope. He said House leaders won’t bring it to a vote unless they’re sure they have enough support to defeat it. If they call for a roll call vote, Wallace said, “we’re dead.”

Apparently Bosley—an ardent casino opponent—knew what he was doing when he decided to drag his feet on the bill. The rule of thumb is generally not to declare something dead until the fat lady sings…but when the guy who’s been the biggest supporter of a bill says, “We’re dead,” that’s a pretty good indicator. Also, there were a lot of fat people singing at the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast.