Mass. looks ready to OK casinos

Aug 25, 2009 5:06 PM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

In the past, it was all talk, but now the battle begins as major gaming companies go to the mat for casino licenses in Massachusetts. And all the big names in the gaming industry seem to be gearing up for what appears to be a certain casino law before year end.

"It looks like it will become a reality rather than just a conversation we have every couple of years," said state Rep. Todd Smola.

Still uncertain is the form the legislation will take. According to a Monday story in the Boston Globe, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, considered the Senate’s point person on casinos, said a range of options is being discussed, including licensing only slot machines at racetracks; allowing only resort-style casinos; providing slot machines at bars and restaurants, or some combination.

The news report added that one option being considered would establish two casino licenses (one in the East and one in the West) and allow slot machines at Raynham Greyhound Park and Plainridge trotting track. That certainly underscores the political strength of Raynham’s George Carney, a major player in Massachusetts politics for more than a half-century, and Plainridge’s Gary Piontkowski, a former chairman of the Massachusetts Racing Commission.

"I know there’s enough votes to do gaming this year," Representative Brian Wallace was quoted as saying, "I just don’t know what form it will be."

Listed as actively seeking the licenses are Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., whose CEO Gary Loveman is a Massachusetts resident; Las Vegas Sands Corp., whose founder and CEO Sheldon Adelson is a native son; Boyd Gaming Corp., Penn National Gaming Inc., Mohegan Sun and Steve Wynn’s Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Since his election, Gov. Deval Patrick has favored three casino licenses and no racetrack slot operations.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier