Massachusetts governor to file casino legislation

Governor Deval L. Patrick said that he plans to file legislation next week to establish casino resorts in Western Massachusetts and two other parts of the state, and that it will include language calling for local approval of the gambling halls.

He said he could not say whether local approval would be decided by binding referenda or through municipal regulatory boards. „What we want to assure is that there is going to be local input in the siting issues, as there is for any other large development,“ Patrick told reporters after an unrelated speech at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. „How we do that is a question.“

But Daniel O’Connell, secretary of housing and economic development, told The Boston Globe that the bill would include a provision for a binding referendum. He said that voter approval would have to come before a developer can submit a bid for one of the three resort casinos being pushed by the governor, the newspaper reported yesterday.

During an appearance on a radio talk show yesterday afternoon, Patrick said that his staff has not „come to rest“ on how to assure local say on a proposed casino. Yesterday, several legislators said that Patrick needs to file his casino legislation before they can comment on particulars.

Republican Bradley H. Jones Jr., the House Republican leader, mocked Patrick for failing to provide details of his casino bill. Jones issued a statement saying that he was attaching a copy of Patrick’s casino bill, calling it „a useful public service“ for those interested in details. The attachment was blank, except for the word „summary“ at the top.

On September 17, Patrick unveiled his proposal for the state to auction licenses for three resort casinos. A team led by the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut plans to bid for a license in Western Massachusetts. The group wants to build a casino in Palmer off Exit 8 of the state Turnpike.