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Governor Patrick Considers Putting Casino Profit into State Budget

On February 3rd, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick is considering putting predicted casino licensing profits in his budget proposal for the incoming fiscal, a difficult political decision to increase the pressure on the House to allow his plans for building three resort casinos in the state. Patrick is offering before the Legislature the incentive of $800 million of licensing costs that will be paid by developers. It will help relieve the $1.45 billion budget deficit problem of the state.

House officials said that Gov. Patrick will be met with criticism if he places such profit in the budget before his casino proposal has undergone formal hearing or approved by legislators. Representative Robert A. DeLeo, who is the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means and the head budget official, said that he thinks that it is not a wise move because it is such a hotly contested issue.

It will require an extensive review and in a time that they need to be really transparent when it comes to the budget, it could be a big blunder. The spokesperson for House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, David Guarino, called it a premature move on the part of the governor. With a big budget deficit, using the casino licensing fees would put undue pressure on the legislature to pass the proposal of Gov. Patrick or find other means to increase the budget.

In a gambling proposal that he filed back in October, the governor called for a bidding process to license three casino facilities in three areas in Massachusetts. The bidding for one of the casino licenses would begin at $200 million but could go even bigger, according to administration officials and gaming investors.

That money will be readily available but it is not yet clear how Gov. Patrick will utilize the cash if he places it in the budget. The casino bill of the Governor states that majority of the casino proceeds will be divided between tax relief for the residents and improvement of the transportation facilities of the state.

The money will also be used to pay for the police force, public health and making a state gambling oversight commission. Officials of the administration commented that they are considering putting up the casino profits in the budget.

Administration and Finance Secretary Leslie Kirwan commented that during a hearing back on December 18th, 2007, it was debated that the casino profits can help cushion the budget deficit. She added that the estimated casino profit can reached between $1.2 billion and $1.45 billion on 2009.


02/18/2008 22:22 PM


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