BOSTON (CBS/AP) – After years of debate, a bill to bring casinos to Massachusetts is heading to the Governor’s desk.

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday evening, after hitting some snags earlier in the day.

Both the House and Senate voted to amend the bill to reduce the percentage of annual gaming revenues that would be directed to help the state’s horse racing industry.

WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller reports

The reduction would be from 5 percent to 2.5 percent, with the other 2.5 percent redirected to local capital projects.

A compromise gambling bill was passed by both the House and Senate on Tuesday, but needed final enactment votes on Wednesday.

Lawmakers also voted to add language regarding police jurisdiction around casino that had been left out of the earlier measure.

“This expanded gaming legislation will bring immediate jobs, local aid and economic growth to our Commonwealth at a time we need it most,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones spoke with Therese Murray

“This legislation alone is not going to be the solution to our ongoing economic recovery, but it will help put unemployed residents back to work in good jobs with good benefits,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said.

Under the legislation, casinos would be able to offer free drinks on the gaming floor only.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz spoke with residents of Palmer about the possibility of a casino coming to their town.

Listen to the report

Licensing fees collected by the state – at least $85 million for each casino and $25 million for the slot facility license – would be used for community mitigation, local capital projects, community colleges, tourism and other municipal needs.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  1. Jon Friberg says:

    Does anyone know if this bill will allow Mass residents to play online poker?

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