House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo is putting the final touches on a bill to be released tomorrow that would license two resort-style casinos in Massachusetts and slot machines at the state’s four struggling racetracks, according to two people briefed on the plan.
The plan calls for selling licenses for the casinos – a sale that industry officials say could generate $75 million to $100 million each to help ease the state’s fiscal crisis, according to the people.
One person briefed on the plan said the state plans to collect 25 percent of the revenue from each casino, which industry officials say could each generate as much as $250 million to $300 million annually.
The bill does not set geographical boundaries for the casinos, as Governor Deval Patrick’s 2007 proposal did. Instead, it would create a commission to work with industry officials and local communities to find the best locations for the casinos.
Driving at least part of the legislation is DeLeo’s desire to save the racetracks, two of which – Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere and Suffolk Downs in East Boston – are located in his district.
But while Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray support resort-style casinos, they strongly oppose slots at the tracks, arguing that they would not generate as many jobs. DeLeo, according to one person close to the speaker, maybe open to a compromise.
"He won’t let casinos go down over slots," said the person. "There’s too much at stake."
One issue still being debated in DeLeo’s inner circle is whether to require developers to invest a minimum of $500 million per casino to ensure a high-end operation. One industry official predicted that a $750 million casino would generate 12,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs. Another person briefed on the plan said the House estimates that the entire bill would create 15,000 jobs.
Two people briefed on the bill said that 100 percent of the revenue from the slot machines, under the plan, would be dedicated to local aid, until the casinos can be built -- a move intended to help build support for the bill among legislators and local officials.
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