The deadline is drawing near. The legislature has agreed in principle to a gambling bill but it still remains to be seen whether or not this will become law. Although I'm sure there are all sorts of interesting particulars, on the surface the compromise simply takes the key point from the Senate's bill, 3 casinos, with the key point of the House's, slots at the tracks. I'm not really sure we should consider that a compromise. That just seems like everybody is trying to have their cake and eat too. Where's the balance? Of course our legislators need to come up with a compromise bill that will pass in both the houses and the senate but at the same time that bill has to be good for the Commonwealth, and I'm not sure this one is.
By both sides simply getting what they want we risk a real oversaturation of whatever market exists. With a proposal for 3 casinos and 2 racinos there is a real risk of there not being enough of a market for each venue to thrive. Instead of becoming true destinations that would draw money from around the state and hopefully from outside the state, these venues would instead draw from the region of their host communities and become parasitic destinations that just exacerbate the social costs.
But will it pass?
There has already been some speculation that the compromise bill may have a tough time passing a Senate vote, due to the inclusion of slots at the tracks. To make matters worse the Governor, who has never been in favor slots, is already saying anything more than one racino is not acceptable. Here's the big catch 22. The timer is almost down to zero. The sand has almost run out. If the powers that be want to legalize gambling the opportunity is here but somebody is going to have to accept something they don't want. Who's going to blink? Speaker DeLeo needs racinos to be included in the bill or else he goes home to his constituents with nothing, but at the same time if the bill doesn't pass he still goes home with nothing. The Senate and the Governor don't want racinos but may have to accept them as the only way to get this done in this session. I suppose there is always the option to extend the session but our legislators have already expressed no interest in doing so and they would still be deadlocked around these same basic points.
Of course if the bill does fail to pass it will bring a big sigh of relief from those who oppose legalized gambling and from those of us who do not want to see a casino in Fall River. However would this bill's failure to pass be enough to derail the Mashpee Wampanoag plan? I guess that waits to be seen.