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Romney holds up neighbors

Feb 18, 2003 6:57 AM

Some are calling his plan blackmail but that is not deterring Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from proposing his unique plan.

Simply stated: New England states that want Massachusetts to stay out of the gambling business would pay the Bay State a percentage of their gambling revenues. After all, says Romney, a large part of the revenues are derived from Massachusetts residents who travel to these gambling emporiums.

"It is something that is a creative, possible source of revenue," Romney said while suggesting the plan as a trial balloon. "I would relish the opportunity of finding tens of millions of dollars coming to Massachusetts without our having the additional social costs associated with additional gambling within our borders," he said.

The idea was not too well received by Romney’s neighbors.

Dan Bucci, who operates dog racing and several hundred slot machines at Lincoln Greyhound Track in Rhode Island called it "ransom money" that his company would not be willing to pay. "It seems to me not to be a very well-thought out brainstorm," he said.

A spokesman for the Mohegan Tribe Council of Connecticut said the tribe would not stand in the way of another Indian tribe building a casino in a neighboring state.

The reaction didn’t surprise Romney who agreed that his plan still faced a number of hurdles.

Still, Romney said the idea of auctioning off casino blocking rights "is worth studying."