Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo affirmed his commitment to advance legislation for an expanded gambling bill in September during an appearance at a legislative luncheon Monday at the Winthrop Lodge of Elks.
Appearing at the event with State Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, DeLeo told the gathering, “One of the major items that I see in this legislative session is the necessity to do an expanded gaming bill in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
On July 13, DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray had issued a joint statement stating “both branches plan to debate gaming legislation in September after Labor Day.”
DeLeo noted that in 2010 the Legislature advanced a gaming bill further than at any previous time in the state’s history.
“I’m working closely with the Senate president and the Governor to iron our differences and I am hopeful that in September we’re going to have an expanded gaming bill on the desk of Governor Patrick.”
DeLeo said he considers the gaming bill “a very important issue for an economy.”
“What this is all about is creating jobs,” said DeLeo. “Right now we have 15,000-20,000 jobs that we are losing as a result of not having expanded gaming here in Massachusetts. That’s what this issue is all about. We have to provide jobs for people. We have to stop this blue-collar depression, which is going on in our commonwealth and we have to stop it right now. That’s why I look upon this bill as such an important economic development issue for our commonwealth.”
DeLeo said expanded gaming legislation would create finances “so we can do some of things that we’ve neglected for too long while at the same time creating about 20,000 permanent jobs.”
“I am hopeful that we will get it done,” said DeLeo. “But I’m not going to say we’re going to get it done until I actually see it signed. This is one of the things I learned from last year when I thought we had an agreement on a number of principles – I’ll wait to see that is signed. But I am confident. I’ve had great conversations with both legislative leaders and I’m really pleased to see the progress.”
Petruccelli has been a proponent in the state Senate for expanded gaming and a key adviser to the Senate president and his colleagues on the issue. DeLeo praised Petruccelli’s efforts, saying, “With the urgency for revenue and jobs in mind, I will continue to work with Governor Patrick, Senate President Murray and Senator Petruccelli to find a consensus on gaming. I am hopeful we can get it done this session.”
“There has been a debate on this issue and I can promise you that it has been fully thought of and vetted,” said Petrucelli. “We debated it in the Senate for eight days. I’m looking forward to that opportunity again in September to get this over the goal line.”
Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer for Suffolk Downs, attended the luncheon. He said he was pleased that the Senate and House of Representatives will be conducting their debate on expanding gambling in September.
“Suffolk Downs, our horsemen and employees are excited that the House, Senate, and Governor have committed to a September time frame for this debate,” said Tuttle. “Should a bill pass, we look forward to competing for a license and to creating jobs and revenue for the area.”