Reporting Jon Keller
BOSTON (CBS) – The house has voted to roll the dice on a new measure that would legalize several new casinos here in Massachusetts.
WBZ’s Jon Keller recently spoke to House Speaker Robert DeLeo about what the bill could mean for Massachusetts.
By a 123-32 veto-proof vote, the House approved last week the construction of three casinos and one slot parlor in Massachusetts.
The Bay State would take charge 25% tax on casino earnings. Other states, like Illinois (34% tax on casino revenues) and Pennsylvania (55% tax on slots revenues) take a bigger cut.
Some say we’re leaving millions of dollars on the table. Why?
“Not at all. I find that if you even take a look at Rhode Island, for instance. Their tax structure was similar to that (in Illinois and Pennsylvania). Now what is Twin Rivers facing? They’re almost facing bankruptcy,” said DeLeo. “So what we wanted to do, we wanted to make sure we had two things: that we got a fair take relative to money coming in to the Commonwealth, while at the same time letting those folks have the opportunity to make further investments in their facilities as well.”
“It’s really a fine line and I hear you, but our studies have shown, that have come back by the experts, that say if you tax them too heavily that they’re not going to prosper in their businesses, which in a relatively short period of time may not even stay open,” DeLeo continued.
In 5-10 years, if it turns out that casino gambling is not the net job creator lawmakers thought it would be, is there any way out?
“The way the legislation reads, it doesn’t state that there has to be three casinos, it says up to three casinos. So, we allow the commission to be appointed, and they will decide the economic factors and the application process in terms of whether who’s ever making applications commit to Massachusetts, whether they’re viable options for us, for them to come into the state and do business,” said DeLeo. “If they can’t show they have the fiscal wherewithal, then this does not happen.”
“Massachusetts, Jon, appears to be a very fertile ground for gambling,” DeLeo continued.