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Haverhill

February 22, 2011

Answering questions about his push for casinos

BOSTON — State Rep. Brian Dempsey, coauthor of the House proposal for resort casinos and slot machine parlors at racetracks, is considered one of the driving forces for legalizing casino gambling in Massachusetts.

The Haverhill Democrat answered The Eagle-Tribune's questions about his casino gambling proposal.

Q. The House leadership is pitching gambling as a solution to the state's annual revenue shortfalls. Yet those states with the largest casino gambling operations — Nevada, California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois — are projecting huge budget deficits next fiscal year. How would gambling help solve Massachusetts' problems when it clearly has not helped those states?

A. Casinos are not a panacea or the complete solution, but they can be a piece of an overall economic stimulus. The three-casino plan will generate close to $2 billion in capital investments and more than 10,000 jobs. A clear benefit is casinos don't require the kind of tax breaks and state subsidies that have been given to manufacturing and emerging industries. If you look at other industries like life sciences and biotech manufacturing, we have given them tax breaks and other incentives to attract and keep them here. But we don't have to make a financial commitment to casinos like we do for other industries. It can be another sector in Massachusetts and we know there's a strong market for it here because we're losing in excess of $1 billion a year to casinos in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Q. Why are you and the House speaker so insistent that slot machines at racetracks be included in the expanded gaming bill?

A. We want to help existing racetracks that are struggling and where there is already existing infrastructure around an existing gaming venue. When Maryland considered an open bidding process, owners of shopping malls and people who owned large pieces of land applied. But we don't want slot parlors popping up around the state in places were gaming would be new to the area.

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