Sep 19
State Representative John W. Scibak joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives last week in passing expanded gaming legislation designed to create jobs and stimulate economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.  The bill will create an estimated 15,000 jobs in the Commonwealth while delivering an estimated- millions of dollars in immediate local aid to cities and towns.  “With people in our Commonwealth hurting, this expanded gaming legislation will bring immediate jobs, local aid and economic growth.” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “I am extraordinarily proud of the House’s unwavering commitment to jobs and growth. While not a panacea, this bill will stimulate our economy and provide local aid for the cities and towns across Massachusetts.” “Today’s bill is the product of a long and deliberative process that included an extensive public hearing and vigorous debate among members of the House,” said Representative Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies. “I am proud of the result, a bill that will create thousands of good jobs in the Commonwealth and generate millions of dollars in new revenue to support vital public services.”  “This bill will create jobs for people across the Commonwealth at a time when we need them most,” said Representative Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “The revenue generated by this piece of legislation will provide the resources needed to support economic growth initiatives and bring much needed aid to our cities and towns. I am pleased that my colleagues in the House choose to advance this bill today and appreciate the tremendous amount of work from Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Wagner that went into moving this legislation forward.” The bill would create an independent gaming commission to license and regulate gaming entities in the Commonwealth. After an extensive licensing process, the commission could authorize one casino in each of three designated regions of the Commonwealth.  The bill divides the state into three casino regions. Region A would include the counties of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Worcester. Region B would include the counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hamden and Hampshire with Region C the counties of Bristol, Dukes, Plymouth, Barnstable and Nantucket.  The bill also makes provision for the Governor to compact with a Native American Tribe for a gaming license in Region C to provide maximize economic development benefits by August 1, 2012.  Resort casinos would be required to pay $85 million in licensing fees while also making a minimal capital investment of $500 million. Under the legislation, the independent gaming commission is also authorized to license slot machines at one location to a qualified applicant in a competitively-bid process. The licensing fee for housing slot machines would be $25 million. Slot applicants will be obligated to make a minimal capital investment of at least $125 million. The resort casino tax rate would be 25 percent while the tax rate for racetracks with slots would be 40% going directly to local aid and an additional 9 percent assessment to be used for horse development funding. Casino revenue would go toward local aid, the state’s stabilization fund, economic development, education, debt reduction, tourism, transportation infrastructure, community mitigation, public health and local capital projects. The bill now goes to the Senate.