Governor Deval Patrick will likely sign a bill into law this week expanding gambling in Massachusetts with casinos and a slot parlor just a few days after New Hampshire Governor John Lynch pledged to veto an expanded gambling bill that will come before the House of Representatives in early January.
Having been on the Senate Ways and Means Committee during my time in the Senate, I have closely watched the battles go back and forth over expanded gambling which means some form of slot machines and table games at casinos. I also was a commissioner on the Governorís Commission on Gaming which looked into the pluses and minuses of more gambling options in the state.
Senator Lou DíAllesandro (Manchester) for more than a decade has been the chief proponent of expanded gambling in New Hampshire pushing bills to allow several casino facilities to open. The publicís share of the profits would benefit a long list of state and local programs. The Senator touts the economic benefits of his current bill (SB 182) highlighting the construction jobs and economic benefits of hundreds of millions of dollars of investment by casino developers.
A couple of weeks ago the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously on a motion by Senator DíAllesandro to send his bill to interim study. If the full Senate supports that recommendation when the bill goes to the Senate floor in January, his bill is dead. The motion of interim study is a polite motion to kill a bill.
That means all the attention for followers of gaming bills is on a House Bill that would permit two casinos to open in the next couple of years. Republicans dominate the House but appear ready to abandon their party platform which has traditionally opposed expanded gambling. In fact, the main anti-gambling group lists the Republican Party as one of its key allies.
While proponents of more gambling options have noted potential job creation and money for the state and communities impacted by the new casinos, Governor Lynch weighed in with a different perspective as justification for his veto threat.
Some key points he raised include the fact we do not have a modern, up-to-date regulatory structure in place to oversee casino gambling. Pennsylvania is a good example of how not to do it as several legislators are either serving prison sentences or are under indictment for tinkering with the issuance of gambling licenses.
The top recommendation of the Governorís Commission on Gaming was to put in place a regulatory structure based on success in other states if expanded gaming were to occur. Without that structure, the Governor suggests we are not ready for casinos.
States with casino gambling become addicted to the revenue stream it creates. The result is that states become very compliant with gaming interests to increase revenue by expanding gambling. Look at New Jersey, for example, which is looking to allow betting on amateur and professional sports. This was always a "no no" as sports betting was looked upon as straight line to player pay offs and game fixing and corruption.
The debate over expanded gambling will continue. But for now, the Governor has put down his veto marker and has ended any likelihood of expanded gambling in the near future.
From my perspective, if Charles Massey had only one play to set his theatrical legacy in Newport, I would vote for his production over the weekend of Our Town. I am a bit prejudiced as Our Town has been my favorite play since I saw it first as a student in high school.
I have taken every opportunity to see Our Town over the years including the last time being a few years ago in an off Broadway show in New York. Charles Masseyís final show before he begins his North Carolina retirement this week was simply great.
Thousands of area residents and visitors have enjoyed Charles Massey productions over the years. They have enriched us with entertainment and insights into the lives of others and ourselves, too. We all join together in saying "thank you" to Charles for his theatrical gifts to us and wish him well in his retirement.
Candor requires that I write that the next couple of paragraphs are from a proud father. The program read: "Travel, Love & Exoticism: Chinese Ceramics in Dutch Interiors" by Dawn Odell. I drove down to Greenwich, CT., to be there last Monday to hear Dawn give her lecture to the Connecticut Ceramics Study Group at the prestigious Bruce Museum.
Dawn gave her talk, which her dad can report, was very well done. Using photographs via power point presentation, she explained to a knowledgeable group of collectors the stories of some significant ceramic pieces and talked about the books of early travelers and non travelers to China, and the impact of ceramics and travel books on Dutch art.
Following her lecture, father and daughter headed to New York City for dinner and a day together before she headed to Providence for another lecture. There are few more enjoyable experiences than having time together with an adult child. Others may call Dawn Odell professor Odell or Dr. Odell, but for me she is just a very special person for a proud father, a wonderful and accomplished daughter. Most importantly, we are good friends for which I am very thankful.
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