Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Worcester, Fitchburg join casino madness

While Governor Patrick continues to deliberate whether or not he will support the building of casinos in Massachusetts, more cities and towns are lining up to bring gambling to their communities. Tuesday brought two more proposals.

Worcester is trying to get into the act, as they bandy about a plan to let the Disabled American Veterans build a casino on city land:
WORCESTER -- The Disabled American Veterans of Massachusetts is asking City Manager Michael V. O'Brien to establish an exploratory committee to look into a proposal that has been broached by the group for a casino on city-owned land off Route 146....

As part of the group's proposal, it has suggested sharing the net profits from the casino with veterans groups, the city and state.

"In the past, we have provided you, the mayor and the city councilors copies of our proposal," Mr. Stack wrote in a letter to the city manager. "On average, the city of Worcester would net $40 million in addition to what would be generated by property taxes..."
Not to be left out, Fitchburg's state rep wants his city to be part of the discussion:
BOSTON -- As the statewide appetite for casinos grows, state Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, said he would consider bringing legalized gambling to North Central Massachusetts.

"I'd want to wait and see what (Gov. Deval Patrick) feels about the issue, but if he supports it I think something in the Central Massachusetts area and North Central Worcester County would be great," DiNatale said Monday.
Although he didn't specifically say "Fitchburg," DiNatale isn't pushing a site in Leominster, to be sure.

So that brings the number of cities and towns vying for casinos to at least six. Meanwhile, Governor Patrick is getting himself into his own little executive privilege spat, refusing to release the findings of the study he commissioned:
Two weeks after being briefed on the benefits and pitfalls of casinos in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick and his administration are fighting to keep secret the completed studies that the governor is reviewing.

On July 25, Patrick received a stack of studies on gambling to help him decide whether to support casinos.

But in a sign that Patrick is treating the casino question with political caution, the administration declined Monday to provide copies of the records to the Globe, which filed a formal request for them July 26.
Governor Patrick needs to unveil his position soon, before more and more municipalities stake their claim to the casinos. He should also release the findings of the studies he ordered. This issue is too important to be decided under a cloud of secrecy.

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