At a heavily attended morning press conference, Speaker Robert DeLeo detailed his plan to increase crime in Massachusetts.
In addition to authorizing two resort casinos and up to 750 slot machines at the state’s four race tracks, DeLeo’s plan proposes dramatic increases in both money laundering and enterprise crime.
The plan also requires taxpayers to fund two new crime fighting agencies – a new Division of Gaming Enforcement in the attorney general’s office, and a gaming enforcement unit within the State Police.
In anticipation of gross negative impacts to host communities, DeLeo’s plan authorizes a special Community Mitigation Fund, which would be funded by a one-time payment of $15 million from licensing fees, and 2 percent of the tax on gross gaming revenue. At least until the State needs more money, or the first dip in gambling revenues. Or both.
The plan also provides for a series of other special funds to pay for gambling addiction management services, capital projects, manufacturing, community colleges, tourism, economic stabilization, education, the arts, open space, animal husbandry, charity bingo, mosquito spraying, greyhound adoption, toys for tots, urban renewal, cold fusion, necromancy, economic stimulus, elective plastic surgery, clam bakes, medical experiments and various regional tractor pulls, with room to include any other special interests that would help the speaker attain the votes he needs.
These special funds would also be financed by a portion of one-time licensing fees and a minuscule, unspecified percentage of future gambling revenues. The Speaker anticipates that these accounts will be fully funded until the State needs more money.
Immediately following the press conference, House Minority Leader Brad Jones called it a “good starting point.” He said in a statement, “Because, not only does Beacon Hill have some of the best minds you could find anywhere, but I’m also confident that we can work together in a bipartisan manner to make Massachusetts the first place in America, or the world for that matter, to actually do gambling legislation ‘right’.”
“It doesn’t sound like enough slots, from what I heard,” stated Sen. Michael Morrissey, “From everything I’ve heard, the more slots – the more money we legislators get to spend, so why not go for it.” When Morrissey was asked how many slots he’d like to see, he suggested, “somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty to thirty million. Yeah. That’d be good. No. Forty Million. No wait. Fifty. Fifty… Fifty-Five million slot machines.”
Plainridge Racecourse chief operating office Gary Piontkowski told the News Service he believed 2010 was finally the year he’d realize his long-held dream of lowering the State’s expectations to his own. Asked if 750 slot machines were sufficient since previous proposals had recommended 2,000 per track. Piotkowski said, “I always thought a good number was around 1,500. But It is what is is. No complaints here. As long as the industry gets a toehold, we’ll see those numbers go up soon enough.”