Archive for the ‘Gambling’ Category

Senators work for better deal in casino legislation

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

By Krista Kano and Michael Morton, MetroWest Daily News

September 17, 2011

BOSTON —Sen. James Eldridge will vote against the state’s casino legislation when it comes to the Senate in 10 days, but he said he plans to offer a series of amendments to make what he thinks is a bad bill a better deal for the state.

Eldridge, an Acton Democrat who is one of the Legislature’s most vocal opponents of casino gambling, said he will propose an amendment to provide funding to communities having problems caused by nearby casinos.

He also plans to add one that would prevent conflicts of interest between government officials and casino operators.

“I’m planning to file a number of amendments at the very least to make it better, but I will be voting against the final bill,” he said.

In Wednesday’s House session, Rep. Matt Beaton, R-Shrewbury, also had his reservations, saying he was on the fence almost until the end. He said voted against the bill after listening to opponents from his district.

His concerns include creating another government agency independent of the Legislature, casino studies he said were done by partisan organizations, and short-term incentives to create casinos overpowering consideration of their long-term costs.

Beaton was one of 32 representatives to vote against the bill, which passed the House with 123 votes.

Yesterday, Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford, offered clarification on an amendment he secured during the House debate over the bill.

While the proposed legislation raised the possibility of a new gambling commission getting involved in negotiations between casino developers and surrounding communities, Fernandes said the bill only allowed the commission to facilitate a deal and did not sanction the group to forcibly break stalemates.

“What the bill does not do is provide a relief valve,” he said of the initial House version.

Under Fernandes’ successful amendment, developers would submit their most recent negotiating stances to the commission, which could then impose the terms, offer alternative provisions or tack on additional requirements to address the worries of neighboring communities.

With leaders in towns such as Hopkinton and Holliston already speaking out against a proposal for a casino in Fernandes’ hometown, he said his amendment ensures that negotiations will take place in good faith and not be scuttled by towns locked in opposition regardless of offered compromises.

Hopkinton and Holliston are both represented by Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, who voted against the casino bill and unsuccessfully sought two changes. One change would have automatically designated cities and towns within two miles of a casino as surrounding communities that could get perks from casino profits. The other amendment would give a referendum to those municipalities with housing inside the zone.

Yesterday, the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted 13-3 for a bill that is a near replica of the version passed by the House.

Senators now have eight days to file amendments leading up to the Sept. 26 scheduled Senate debate on the bill.

Eldridge said he will spend the time trying to organize against the legislation.

“It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle getting ready for the debate and reaching out to the colleagues about why expanded gambling will be bad for Massachusetts,” he said. “There are plenty of senators who don’t like three casinos or slot machines, and those are the senators we’re going to be reaching out to right up until the debate.”

link to article

Casino legislation protects Cape stages from ‘blackouts’

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

By Marjorie NesinCape Cod Times

September 17, 2011

BOSTON– The expanded gambling bill approved by House lawmakers Wednesday night includes regulations to protect local entertainment venues, such as the Cape Cod Melody Tent, against major business losses from new casinos.

Under the legislation, large casinos would not be allowed to impose blackout periods for popular performers on other entertainment venues, said Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Under blackout restrictions, an artist hired by a casino can’t perform at nearby venues within a given time frame.

When the House bill was under consideration, state Rep. Vincent Pedone, D-Worcester, filed an amendment that listed entertainment venues the state should protect from competition with casinos, including the Cape Cod Melody Tent. The House rejected the idea of creating a list of specific businesses, but did require that casino applicants must have signed agreements with local clubs, theaters and other pre-existing entertainment venues that outline a plan to coordinate performance schedules to prevent casinos from interfering with local ticket sales.

“(The concern) is not just ticket sales dropping,” Northcross said. “The issue is keeping our smaller local venues open and available to booking similar acts and not being faced with a blackout radius and time frame.”

The legislation would require a state gaming commission to double check that an applicant has created a contract with every local venue. If a casino operator failed to cooperate with the local venues, the casino could be at risk of not having its license renewed.

“We’re all competing for the same discretionary dollar,” Northcross said.

Northcross said she hopes the casino legislation will keep the gaming facilities from hoarding popular performers. But she is still concerned about the effects of a resort-style casino on other local businesses.

“A resort-style casino is a very sticky rice, everything stays together. A person that goes to a resort-style casino is going to have so many amenities and so many perks. … They don’t really have to leave the casino,” Northcross said.

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis conducted a study at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., that showed the percentage of visitors who spend money at local businesses on non-gambling activities increased after the casino was built. Casino workers primarily bought food and beverages at several new local restaurants, according to a press release from the Center for Policy Analysis.

Clyde Barrow, director of the policy center, said casinos could give away prizes such as gift vouchers to nearby restaurants or stores, which would boost local business.

“I think the protections in the bill are more than adequate,” Barrow said of the House’s casino legislation. “Casinos everywhere are one of the most regulated industries in the U.S. … The reality is they’re used to dealing with it.”

The House used examples such as the Twin River Casino and casinos in New Jersey and California when drafting the expanded gambling legislation.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee released a Senate version of the casino bill Friday that closely mirrors the language in the House bill.

The Senate version of the bill also calls for three resort casinos in three distinct regions of the state, including one in Southeastern Massachusetts, along with a single slot parlor at one of Massachusetts’ race tracks. The Senate legislation sets aside $5 million for Gov. Deval Patrick to negotiate a compact — mainly a deal on payment to the state in lieu of taxes — with a federally recognized tribe for a resort-style casino in Southeastern Massachusetts. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has the inside track on that license. But the chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the state’s only other federally recognized tribe, told the Times this week that the Aquinnah plan to make a play for the region’s casino.

Senators have a deadline of 3 p.m. Wednesday to submit proposed amendments to their casino legislation, and debate is scheduled to begin Sept. 26, a spokeswoman for state Senate President Therese Murray said.

Link to original story.

Gambling bill garners mixed reviews among local politicians

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

By Krista KanoMetroWest Daily News

Sept. 15, 2011

BOSTON —As the House sped through some 150 amendments to proposed casino legislation yesterday, several local lawmakers questioned or opposed the plan that calls for three resort-style casinos and a slots parlor, creating what supporters say will be 15,000 jobs.

“The proposal has basically got good bones, but everything else is in the details, and the details are always difficult to work out,” said Rep. Chris Walsh, D-Framingham.

Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, a longtime opponent of legalized gambling, said he thinks casinos will hurt the local economy. He said he fears the casinos will siphon money from locally owned restaurants and theaters.

“I’ve called for an independent cost analysis for a true understanding of the social cost and how many jobs casinos will create and destroy,” Eldridge said.

His reservations were echoed by Rep. Ruth B. Balser, D-Newton, who told House members that “this is a race to the bottom.”

She referred to various studies showing the ineffectiveness of casinos to jump-start a local economy, noting Connecticut’s finances as one of the most troubled in the nation despite it being home to two major casinos.

Other lawmakers, including Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley, cited studies that claim casinos promote the economy.

“This isn’t the answer to our economic woes, but I think it’s a step,” Peisch said. “I don’t think it will cause the quality of life in Massachusetts to change. The casinos won’t be the focus. It won’t be the one and only reason people come here.”

Sen. Michael A. Moore, D-Millbury, said he thinks the casinos will create jobs and generate money for the state. But he also worries about the effect casinos and a slots parlor will have on those struggling with compulsive gambling.

“We need to make sure there are safeguards and make sure the community has a say in whether or not there is a casino in their community,” said Moore, pointing to Milford, one of the proposed casino sites.

Walsh said Milford’s economy is supported by the high-tech sector, which remains a bright spot in the state’s economy.

“I think (a casino) could be much more useful in some of the areas that are having a more difficult time because their traditional industry has collapsed,” he said. “I think Milford is kind of a waste of that.”

Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland, filed an amendment that would add two representatives from each casino community to the five-person statewide committee that would oversee gambling in the state. Sannicandro also submitted an amendment that would funnel gambling revenue into higher education.

Tracks: Simulcasting needed

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Plainridge officials make case at Statehouse hearing

By Allison McKinnonThe Sun Chronicle

BOSTON – Officials from Plainridge Racecourse and Suffolk Downs told legislators Tuesday the livelihood of their tracks would be at stake if Massachusetts limits their ability to broadcast live horse and greyhound racing.

Members of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure are reviewing 18 bills, including two that would limit simulcasting rights for tracks that don’t have full racing schedules and would ban simulcasting of greyhound races starting in 2013.

Another bill would extend simulcasting rights through Dec. 31, 2012.

Plainridge President Steve O’ Toole said the racetrack supports the bill proposed by Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, because the simulcasting issue comes up almost yearly, often having to be revised and then pushed back until the next legislative session.

“Extensions for this bill have gone on for over a year, at least, and it’s just time to move forward,” he said. O’Toole said if the bills banning tracks from showing dog races and live races passed, Plainridge would be at a great disadvantage because it would keep away spectators who come to bet on races at other tracks.

He also said the bill would hurt the breeders and the Harness Horsemen’s Association of New England. “They would all take a hit,” he said.

Plainridge has pushed its opening day back to May 16 instead of the traditional April opening to keep more money in the hands of the track and its horsemen, and to ensure greater attendance at live races this summer.

Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas Kennedy, D-Brockton, defended the 80-day racing schedule, saying the shortened calendar would keep the tracks going.

Chet Tuttle, CEO at Suffolk Downs, said the national trend in horse racing is to host a fewer number of live racing days to make the purses bigger, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is a good thing.

“Less is more, and that is true around the country,” Tuttle said. “There is simply less demand for live racing at tracks and a greater demand for simulcasting, so we need to save on expenses and attract more simulcasting to keep up.”

Bigger payoffs at track

Monday, April 11th, 2011

State takes less from Plainridge

BOSTON – With opening day at Plainridge Racecourse just around the corner, gamblers betting on live horse races at the Plainville track can look forward to bigger payoffs this summer.

Due in part to a new, lower “takeout” rate of 15 percent, anyone placing a winning wager on a horse at the beginning of the racing season will pocket the highest payoffs per capita in the nation, officials said.

Takeouts are a percentage on every dollar that the track and state take out of bets. The typical rate is 19 percent.

By lowering the percentage, gamblers will get a better return on investment, Plainridge General Manager Steve O’ Toole said at a state Racing Commission hearing Wednesday.

“Lowering this rate means more money is returned to the customers in the overall pool,” he said. “We would rather have someone with a few hundred dollars who is a savvy gambler keep running it through than someone who places thousands of dollars on one bet.”

The commission approved the takeout policy, which will run as a promotion starting on opening day, May 16, and run through the end of June.

“I think this is a great move for bettors and an innovative and aggressive move for a small track,” commission Chairman Joseph VanDeventer said.

Funds from takeouts go to the horsemen, maintenance of the track and barn, state taxes and to pay simulcasting fees.

Tracks are usually charged a 3 percent fee for the simulcast signals, but the prices can go up drastically for signals from big events, such as the Kentucky Derby.

O’Toole said the rate will apply to all “show” bets, meaning the horse you bet on finishes first, second or third; “place” bets, meaning your horse must take first or second place, and the more difficult “win” bets, when your horse is the first place winner. “Exotic” bets, or those involving two horses in the same race, also fall under the new takeout rate, he said.

“By lowering the takeout rate to 15 percent, the average gambler will be able to stay in the game a lot longer,” O ‘Toole said.

Plainridge seeks state funds

Friday, February 11th, 2011

By Allison McKinnonThe Sun Chronicle

PLAINVILLE – A Plainridge Racecourse official met with the state Racing Commission this week seeking reimbursement for more than $2 million in architecture and engineering expenses related to renovations at the track.

Plainridge General Manager Steve O’Toole said $2.7 million has already been spent on part of the project to renovate the horse racing venue.

The track asked the commission Wednesday what charges would be allowable from its capital improvement fund.

Plainridge is potentially eligible for financing under the Running Horse Capital Improvements Trust Fund, an account set aside by the commission to be used for adding or restoring permanent structures that enhance the property’s value or increases its useful life.

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation spokesman Jason Lefferts said racetracks pay the commission percentages of simulcast wagers. Some of that money is then set aside in the trust fund, from which racetracks such as Plainridge can seek to access. “Money collected by the racing commission from the tracks can be given back to the track for alterations, additions, improvements and immediate repairs,” he said.

O’Toole said three projects have been completed under Plainridge’s master plan for expanded gaming.

They include renovation of 12,000 square feet of administrative offices, an updated wagering room and simulcast theater and a 1,500 space parking garage.

“It’s structured in stages, and it is all part of a master plan,” O’Toole said.

The total cost for racetrack projects is more than $34 million, with an estimated 5 percent of that cost going to design, architecture and engineering.

Commission Chairman Joseph VanDeventer asked O’Toole if expenses for the individual projects could be split up, and wanted Plainridge to provide more specific information about the purpose of the renovations before making a final decision for reimbursement. “The statute specifically says the capital fund is for basic (expansion), not gaming, so you may need to split it out before we go forward,” VanDeventer said.

O’Toole cited parking problems as the reason to complete the garage first.

“This facility is state of the art, clean and new,” he said. “We just want to find out what we are eligible for as we keep going with our plans.”

The chairman said the commission doesn’t usually pay out until a project is completed, and the commission hasn’t approved or rejected Plainridge’s request.

DeLeo: Casino bill not a priority in January

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

By Sarah FavotThe Lowell Sun


BOSTON — The debate over casino gambling in Massachusetts continues, this time over whether the Legislature should take it up again when it convenes in January.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, has said that passing the gambling bill would not be his priority for the upcoming legislative session. He cited other issues, such as the budget deficit and health-care spending as more pressing issues to take up.

Two local state representatives, one Democrat and one Republican, don’t agree.

“I’m very surprised, given the issue of the day is jobs and ways to close the budget deficit,” said Marc Lombardo, a Republican from Billerica who won state Rep. Bill Greene’s open seat. “With the license revenues from casinos and thousands of jobs, I can’t understand why it would fall off.”

Rep. James Arciero, D-Westford, said the estimated 15,000 jobs that proponents say the bill would create means that the issue shouldn’t be pushed aside, and he would urge the speaker to move the bill forward.

“It was on the goal line and it didn’t get done,” said Arciero. “Each branch has to resolve the issues that they have and it warrants the time that may take.”

The House and Senate sent a bill to the governor on the last day of session in July for three casinos and two slot-machine licenses, which would be open to competitive bid among the state’s four racetracks.

In early August, Gov. Deval Patrick returned the bill to the Legislature proposing three casinos, without the slot machines.

Other area representatives agree with DeLeo that other issues take precedence.

Rep. Charlie Murphy, D-Burlington, Houses Ways and Means chairman, agrees that health-care spending and the budget deficit are the biggest priorities for the Legislature.

“(The gambling bill) is not off the table, but there are other matters we need to address as well,” said Murphy.

Murphy’s priority is balancing the budget, which he said is under way, but he said it was too early to give details.

Rep. David Nangle, D-Lowell, thinks that it’s too late for revenues from the gambling bill to reduce the state’s budget deficit.

“Even if we do address (the gambling bill) in February or March, I don’t believe the time frame would help the $2 billion deficit for the next fiscal year,” said Nangle. “Had we passed it last summer, maybe we would have seen revenue coming in.”

But Nangle said the House needs to work on several major issues simultaneously and he hopes that the gambling bill will be one of them.

He predicts that some form of the bill will pass in 2011.

Rep. Kevin Murphy, D-Lowell, said legislators need to figure out a new revenue stream, other than raising taxes.

“The voters spoke when they voted to eliminate the alcohol tax,” Murphy said. “They don’t want more taxes.”

For now, he said, the gambling bill is the only option for revenue that the Legislature has available. But he doesn’t think the bill is the answer for job creation.

“We’re not going to solve the job issue with the gambling bill,” he said. “We need to find other ways to create jobs.”

Rosenberg says Wampanoag threat to state gambling

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

By Jason MarderGazette

Thursday, September 30, 2010

BOSTON – State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, warns that unless the Legislature renews its stalled efforts to expand gambling in Massachusetts, moves by an Indian tribe could cost the state millions in licensing and tax revenues.

“They could begin gambling on their land and operate without taxation, regulation or state interference at the level that state law currently allows,” Rosenberg said Wednesday.

Rosenberg said he is worried about an application submitted by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to the U.S. Department of Interior in 2007. If approved, approximately 300 acres of land in Fall River would be exempt from state and local regulation and taxes, leaving the tribe free to develop the area for a Class I or II gaming facility.

Rosenberg said a Class II facility could include between 1,000 to 5,000 electronic bingo machines that closely resemble slot machines.

Cedric Cromwell, the tribal chairman of the Wampanoag, said in an email that the tribe is confident its application will be approved. Once that happens, he said, the tribe could break ground almost immediately.

“There has been great momentum on this in Washington, and we have received incredible support from elected officials here in Massachusetts,” Cromwell wrote.

Rosenberg, a sponsor of the state Senate’s original casino bill, said Cromwell’s optimism is well-founded.

He warned the state would be the loser if the Wampanoag tribe is able to build a gaming facility before the Legislature acts on its own casino plan.

The 1998 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act classifies gaming in three ways. Class I is defined as social gaming for minimal prizes. Class II could include bingo or card games played without a “house.” Class III is considered casino-style gaming.

“This is not just guessing, these are comments based on factual and continuous updates from people who are in the position to know what is happening in Washington and what is likely to happen,” Rosenberg wrote.

The land-to-trust program arises from the historic treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. Between 1887 and 1934, the U.S. government took more than 90 million acres – or nearly two-thirds of the reservation lands – from tribes. The land-into-trust program was established to compensate tribes for their lost land.

Although tribal governments are required to consult with local governments about gambling plans, trust lands fall under tribal government and are usually not subject to state laws.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe recently received support for it land-into-trust application from U.S. Sen. John Kerry, and Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. James McGovern of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. Fall River Mayor William Flanagan also supported the application.

Cromwell did not rule out continued negotiations with the state.

“We believe that our project can be a benefit to not only the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, but the Fall River area and the commonwealth as a whole by providing revenue and jobs,” he wrote. “However, we have certain rights as a federally recognized tribe that we will continue to pursue in lieu of the commonwealth passing expanded gaming.”

Not everyone believes the application should be approved.

Kathleen Norbut, former head of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, cited a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that she said should block the Wampanoag application.

That decision settled a dispute between the Narragansett Tribe and the state of Rhode Island over whether the tribe had to comply with local building codes.

The decision reversed the Department of Interior’s interpretation of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, ruling that its secretary did not have authority to place land into trusts for tribes under state jurisdiction prior to 1934. Members of Congress have introduced legislation to change the federal law. If passed, the law would reinstate the Department of Interior secretary’s authority.

In a June 2010 memorandum, Secretary Kenneth Salazar said the Department of Interior would “move forward with processing applications and requests for gaming on Indian lands within the context of objective statutory and regulatory criteria.”

Rosenberg, who voted for the Legislature’s compromise casino bill, said that the lost revenue from Massachusetts residents gambling outside the state, the current unemployment rate and the recession – along with potential competition from the Wampanoag tribe – are all factors that should drive momentum to revisit the legislation.

He promised that an expanded gaming bill would be back in the Legislature.

House Speaker Robert Deleo’s office has refused to say if he would call the House back into formal session to revisit a gaming bill, but Senate President Therese Murray ruled out the possibility of a lame-duck session following the Nov. 2 election.

House votes to allow casinos, slots

Friday, April 16th, 2010

By Laura KrantzThe Metro West Daily News

BOSTON – After years of discussion and one defeat, the House of Representatives approved casino gambling with less than two days of debate.

The House passed a bill late yesterday to allow gambling in Massachusetts with two resort casinos and up to 3,000 slot machines in the state.

The final vote was 120-37, giving Speaker Robert DeLeo more than a two-thirds majority, which the governor couldn’t veto.

Debate yesterday was punctuated by long recesses, during which legislators and lobbyists gathered in State House hallways, whispering on cell phones and huddling in muted conversations.

The bill passed on the same day the House released its version of the 2011 budget, which could cut up to 1,500 jobs and $234 million in aid to cities and towns.

Just before the bill’s passage DeLeo called it “the envy of any other state in the country,” and he congratulated lawmakers on their work.

The bill now moves to the Senate for debate.

Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford, whose hometown is a potential resort casino site, was among the lawmakers to support the bill.

Addressing the House just before the bill’s passage, Fernandes emphasized gambling’s inevitability.

“This debate has not been about whether it should come, but what we do to control that,” Fernandes said.

Fernandes, who voted against casinos in 2008, said he entered the debate uncertain about how he would vote. He said he’s now convinced the bill sufficiently provides for local control.

“Despite all of the discussion about the ills and the goods, there is a certain inevitability about its march across America and into our commonwealth.”

Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland, who voted against the casino bill in 2008, called DeLeo’s proposal a great bill.

Sannicandro said he was pleased with the safeguards it gives to cities and towns, adding that job creation is now his main concern.

“I think what we need to do is get the economy working and get back to work,” Sannicandro said.

State Rep. Karyn Polito, R-Shrewsbury, voted no.

Though she supports the idea of expanded gambling, she opposed the bill because it did not provide a competitive bidding process for racetrack owners like it did for resort casinos, a component she believes will maximize job and revenue possibilities.

Polito said she addressed this issue with the speaker, and proposed an amendment, but “there was no willingness to apply the same rules to the racetrack owners.”

Rep. Carolyn Dykema, a Holliston Democrat, also voted against the bill.

“I’ve been a skeptic from the beginning,” Dykema said.

For six months, she said, she’s received calls from constituents concerned about the damage a big casino could do to small businesses.

State Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, voted for the bill. “This legislation is going to create thousands of jobs in Massachusetts,” she predicted.

State Rep. Ruth Balser, D-Newton, who opposed the bill, said she expected the outcome.

“Nonetheless I’m disappointed that the House so overwhelmingly supported introducing slot machines into Massachusetts,” Balser said.

“This is a very bad public policy decision, and not good for the economy of Massachusetts and certainly not good for Massachusetts culture,” Balser said.

State Rep. Kay Khan, a Democrat from Newton, had recently suggested she might vote against gambling, but she voted for the bill.

Khan did not return a call for comment last night after the vote.

While most of the 216 amendments failed, one that did pass prohibits gambling companies from contacting problem gamblers who have put themselves on do-not-contact lists. Another aims to require only American-made slot machines.

Laura Everett, executive director for the Massachusetts Council of Churches, lobbied against the bill and was teary outside the House chamber last night.

She called slot machines “the most predatory gambling product available.”

The council will continue to fight, she said. “This is just one round in a very long battle,” Everett said.

DeLeo Gambling Bill Released

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

By Laura KrantzThe Metro West Daily News

BOSTON – Speaker Robert DeLeo unveiled his long-awaited expanded gambling bill on Thursday, saying the plan that could include a casino to the MetroWest could create as many as 18,000 new jobs.

“The legislation that I’m going to be proposing here today is a jobs bill,” DeLeo told a crowd of legislators, lobbyists and union workers flanking the State House’s Grand Staircase.

DeLeo said the bill will provide for two resort casinos and up to 750 slots at each of the state’s four race tracks, generating an estimated $1.7 billion for Massachusetts. One of those casinos has been proposed for Milford.

“My concern is for the workers…and that’s what this bill is all about,” DeLeo said.

DeLeo said there would not be a public hearing on the bill before the House begins debate, scheduled for April 13.

MetroWest legislators had mixed reactions to DeLeo’s proposal.

Rep. John Fernandes, a Milford Democrat who might see a casino in his hometown, said he likes the bill.

“In broad strokes, it meets the goal of getting gaming into Massachusetts,” Fernandes said after DeLeo’s press conference.

Fernandes said he would have preferred one, not two, casinos, and wants to see more details about zoning issues and other technical aspects. But he said he is glad the proposal gives host communities a say in the planning.

“Overall it sounds like a bill I can embrace,” said Fernandes. He said DeLeo, who met with Fernandes while drafting the bill, was responsive to his concerns for Milford.

Sen. Richard Moore, D-Uxbridge, said Thursday afternoon he hadn’t studied the proposal in depth yet, but is open to the proposal of a Milford casino.

Moore said if the bill passes, he will seek the official opinion of the town.

“I want to make sure first of all that Milford supports the bill,” he said.

David Nunes, the Colorado developer who has submitted a proposal for a Milford casino, said he is poised to buy the land at any moment.

Nunes said he is “very confident that we have the best location in the state.”

Although DeLeo said he hoped to win the support “of every member of the House,” some MetroWest lawmakers remain opposed.

“I think it’s a terrible way to jumpstart the economy,” Rep. Ruth Balser, D-Newton, said. “I consider this a sad day for Massachusetts.”

Balser said she is working with House colleagues to generate opposition for the bill.

Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, also opposes expanded gambling, because he said it would hurt local businesses.

Gov. Deval Patrick held an impromptu press conference after DeLeo’s announcements, saying the House should hold a public hearing before voting and update the research backing the bill.

The governor said he has always supported a limited number of resort casinos but does not support racinos.

“We are still a long way apart on the idea of slots at the tracks,” said Patrick, but he would not say whether he would veto a bill if it contained provisions for slots.

Other legislators are waiting for more details, including the casino locations and the licensing procedure.

“My main concern right now is how it’s going to be determined where these venues are going to be located,” said Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough.

Rep. Karyn Polito, R-Shrewsbury, said that although she supports expanded gambling, she is concerned about how the gambling licenses are to be awarded.

“We need an open and competitive bidding process that ensures we are putting the best interests of the state first, not those of special interest groups,” she said in a statement issued Thursday.

Other News »