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Proposed legislation requiring an independent analysis of expanded gambling in Massachusetts

Bill S00150 relative to an independent analysis of expanding gaming in the Commonwealth
Sponsored by Senator Brewer
January 24, 2011

This bill would require analysis of the following:
  • Impacts on communities that host expanded gambling facilities and other communities within a 25-mile radius;

  • Short-term, medium-term and long-term impacts that factor in the potential effect of gambling facilities being built in other states along the Massachusetts border, the impact of a potential casino on tribal land in Massachusetts, and the potential impact of the legalization of internet gambling;

  • The effect on the economy that occurs because of jobs created by the gambling industry but also the adverse impacts on jobs whose existence pre-dates expanded gambling;

  • The increase in tax revenue to the state, but also the anticipated loss or diminution of revenues from businesses damaged by the introduction of gambling; and,

  • The costs to Massachusetts or communities hosting gambling facilities of establishing a new regulatory structure to oversee the industry, addressing any increase in criminal activity that results from gambling, incarcerating those found guilty of violating new gambling laws, capital improvements necessary to accommodate new gambling facilities, compulsive gambling, increased bankruptcies, and increased health care utilization to address gambling addiction issues.

Co-sponsors of Brewers bill include: Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), a House Floor Division leader; Rep. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont); Rep. Thomas Conroy (D-Wayland); Rep. James Lyons (R-Andover); Rep. Elizabeth Malia (D-Jamaica), co-chair of the Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Rep. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton); Rep. Frank Smizik (D-Brookline); Rep. Ruth Balser (D-Newton); Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston); Rep. Todd Smola (R-Palmer); Rep. Brian Ashe (D-Longmeadow); Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville); Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville); Sen. Susan Fargo (D-Lincoln); Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton); Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge); Sen. Michael Knapik (R-Westfield); Sen. James Eldridge (D-Acton); and Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield).


Previous studies on expanded gambling in Massachusetts

COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS: Projecting and Preparing for Potential Impact of Expanded Gaming on Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Spectrum Gaming Final Report for the Commonweath of Massachusetts
August 1, 2008
Cost to Taxpayers: $189,000

Spectrum Gaming Market Analysis, Gross Gaming Revenue Projections
An update to its 2008 Massachusetts gross gaming revenue estimates.
March 31, 2010
Speaker DeLeo held a fundraiser in the spring with gambling industry representatives and commissioned this benefit analysis by the gambling industry firm within 60 days of the fundraiser. The cost of the Speaker's study was not released.

Massachusetts Statewide Gaming Report
Benefit Analysis requisitioned by the Massachusetts Senate, and Prepared by Innovation Group
June 2010
Cost to Taxpayers: $80,000
Recommended complimentary drinks and smoking to increase gamblers playing and losses.

New Hampshire Gaming Study Commission Final Report of Findings
A review of various models for expanded gaming and their potential to generate state revenues, as well as an assessment of the social, economic and public safety impacts of gaming options on the quality of life in New Hampshire. May 18, 2010

In the News


By Kyle Cheney

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 5, 2011…..Sen. Stephen Brewer, appointed to the Senates most powerful budget-writing post last month by Senate President Therese Murray, is backing legislation championed by anti-gambling forces that requires a detailed cost-benefit analysis as a prerequisite to the introduction of slot parlors or casinos.

We want a data-driven discussion, said Kathleen Conley Norbut, an anti-gambling advocate who previously led United to Stop Slots Massachusetts. We dont want benefit studies done by the gambling industries having that kind of disinformation continue to be spread.

Brewer, who voted against expanded gambling legislation last session, has declared himself open-minded on the issue and was appointed to chair to Senate Ways and Means Committee despite voting last year to reject a proposal that would have sanctioned three casinos and two slot parlors. The bill passed the House and Senate in July but died when Gov. Deval Patrick sent it back to the Legislature after lawmakers had adjourned formal sessions for the year.

Expanded gambling critics have pushed for a cost-benefit analysis, arguing other studies commissioned by the governor and Legislature omitted details about the potential downside of expanded gambling.

According to the legislation, if the study concludes that the expanded gambling costs outweigh its benefits, any expanded gambling legislation would require two-third approval in the House and the Senate to reach the governors desk.

Norbut, who is also listed as a co-sponsor of the legislation, blistered House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who has vowed a renewed push for expanded gambling this session.

The speaker borders on being obsessed with this issue, and thats unfortunate for the comprehensive needs of the commonwealth, she said. Its no surprise to hear him continuing to go with supporting misinformation.

DeLeo has supported expanded gambling, particularly slot parlors at existing racetracks, as an immediate source of local aid for cities and towns who are bracing for a cut next fiscal year.

The speakers made his concerns clear in the dire fiscal situation about the need for revenue and the need for jobs, said DeLeo spokesman Seth Gitell.

Asked whether hed be open to a cost-benefit analysis, Gitell said, At this time we havent seen the bill in the House.

DeLeo and Gov. Patrick have indicated they might try to work out their differences on gambling behind closed doors to prevent the issue from consuming the legislative agenda. But both have also recently acknowledged they havent had a substantive conversation about gambling since talks collapsed last July.

Sen. Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster) filed a three-casino proposal in early January, hoping to spur debate on the issue earlier in the session and prevent a repeat of last years race against the clock.


By Shawn Regan
The Eagle Tribune

HAVERHILL - FEB. 13, 2011…..A proposal backed by the Senate's top budget writer that would require a detailed cost-versus-benefit analysis before the Legislature takes up casinos again isn't likely to find much support in the House of Representatives, state Rep. Brian Dempsey said.

According to Sen. Stephen Brewer's proposal, if the study concludes that the cost of expanded gambling outweigh its benefits, any bill that legalizes casinos or slot parlors would require two-thirds approval in the House and Senate to reach the governor's desk. Brewer, D-Barre, was recently appointed to chair the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Dempsey, D-Haverhill, Brewer's Ways and Means counterpart in the House, co-authored last session's proposal on behalf of House Speaker Robert DeLeo that would have created three casinos and two slot parlors at Massachusetts racetracks. The bill passed the House and Senate, but died over Gov. Deval Patrick's opposition to slot parlors at racetracks.

DeLeo and Dempsey support expanded gambling, particularly slot parlors at existing racetracks, as a quick source of local aid for cities and towns bracing for state aid cuts this summer. Both lawmakers have said the House will push for expanded gambling this session.

Dempsey said he respects Brewer's proposal, but he sees it as unnecessary because there have already been several studies on the potential impacts of casinos and slot parlors. He also questioned the practicality of the bill because it calls for analyzing the impacts of casinos and slot parlors on host communities and cities and towns within a 25-mile radius.

"That would be a hypothetical exercise, because no one knows where casinos would be," said Dempsey, who favors what he called a "competitive bidding process," in which a new gaming commission would select the host communities based on specific proposals.

"We want to put the onus on the operators to tell us how they are going to work with local restaurants and local businesses and promote the state lottery as part of their proposals, and then let the gaming commission pick the best ones," Dempsey said. "We won't know ahead of time where they will be, so I don't know how we can do the kind of study ahead of time that Senator Brewer proposes."

As for the question of when the House might take up casinos, Dempsey said most members he has talked to want it to happen "sooner rather than later."

"It's definitely on the front-burner," he said. "I think we'll know more about a timetable in a few weeks."