Friday, March 05, 2010

"Slots stumble at the gate."

That's the headline over at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. Suffice it to say, DeLeo's drive to benefit the well-oiled interests in his district makes it a much more difficult sell for him to get his own bill passed across state government, not that I'm complaining.

How tough would this vote be? Well, at least 30 people would have to switch their votes on a major issue after voting the opposite way not so long ago. Then those thirty would have to somehow convince their constituents they didn't switch their vote strictly because of the Speaker's influence (a seemingly impossible task), an important issue given the anger at government corruption, especially in regards to the Speaker's office. It gets worse, though, because they'll have to do all this when the public knows just how much this bill would benefit DeLeo's key interest group in his district. They'd have to do all that in an election year, with more open and contested seats than in a long, long time.

Of course, the merits of his bill doesn't help DeLeo. Trying to marry 2 casinos and 4 slot parlors is no easy task. DeLeo has to work with the small, but fierce, faction of state reps who won't vote for anything that doesn't have slots at Raynham, all the while doing something to get at the huge swath of reps who've come out over and over against slots at the race track. Now, he'll have an additional problem -- his bill makes for poor policy, even for an industry that's poor policy by default. By proposing 4 racinos, which won't have competitive bids for licenses, it doesn't make it any easier to convince casinos to come on board and compete with them -- which will have a huge impact on the price casinos would be willing to pay for licenses. And the licensing fees is the big shot in the arm that's supposed to be the instant influx of casino money. Oops.

Add Patrick who's throwing subtle threats to veto anything with slot parlors or racinos (good for him), and Senate President Murray, who doesn't want the racinos, to the mix, and one can see how this will be a tough sell. However, it's not like DeLeo's going to be the one who breaks in this stalemate either, especially given the fact that Patrick could be very well be gone come 2011. Who wants to take a bet that if DeLeo can't get the full monty, he'll close up shop, sit back and watch what happens over the next year before he decides his next course of action. Then again, maybe I'm giving him too much credit.

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