Deval’s Dilemma

Aug 2, 2010 3:56 PM

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (pictured) is running for re-election. He was counting on his Democratic party-goers to get him re-elected. But that may not happen…and all because of slot machines.

Patrick favored expanding gambling in his state by offering three casino licenses while bitterly opposing slot machines at the state’s four pari-mutuel racetracks.

However, his fellow Democrats in the House, led by Speaker DeLeo, passed a bill for three casinos but also allowing slot machines to be installed at a dog track in Raynham/Taunton and a harness track in Plainridge.

DeLeo, who publicly challenged Patrick to veto the bill, also said his friends at Suffolk Downs and Wonderland would have one of the three casino licenses.

The political power sponsoring Raynham is track owner George Carney, who for decades has had a strong influence on Beacon Hill lawmakers. And at Plainridge, the track is operated by Gary Piontkowski, former chairman of the Massachusetts Racing Commission. Piontkowski is known to have a strong backer in recently-elected Sen. Scott Brown.

Patrick on Monday said he will send the passed legislation back with amendments eliminating the slots facilities which he says do not provide the high paying jobs that are offered by casinos. He also opposes granting slots licenses that bypass the open bidding process.

If the amendments are rejected, Patrick will then be faced with vetoing the bill or going back on his word and permitting racetrack slots to become law without his signature.