The Death of the Casino Bill

1206106646At long last, Gov. Deval Patrick’s casino bill has been put out to pasture. The House voted 108 to 46 to put the bill in a study commission, which is a kind of purgatory for legislation that nobody wants. Speaker Sal DiMasi declared victory, while Patrick slunk off to New York, the land of the losers.

It’s easy to rejoice in the death of the casino bill, but experience has taught us that once casino developers sense a state may expand gaming, they don’t give up. There are already several gambling-related bills floating around the State House.

Among the gambling initiatives still bubbling on Beacon Hill were a renewed push for slot machines at the state’s four racetracks, a plan for a statewide casino referendum, and maneuvers in the Senate to resurrect the governor’s bill, which would have licensed three resort casinos in the state. The focus will also turn to a quest by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which is asking the federal government to allow it to build a $1 billion resort casino in Middleborough.

As a Rhode Island voter, let me tell you that you haven’t seen any kind of media onslaught about gaming until it’s put up to a popular vote. My mother’s phone rang off the hook with casino supporters and opponents trying to bend her ear about a proposed casino there in 2006. My grandparents got several offers for rides to the polls from all sorts of political organizations.

If Gov. Patrick is upset about the media’s examination of his proposal, he hasn’t seen anything yet. And odds are good that we haven’t either.