Deval Patrick says casino commission may not necessarily create three casinos
Little more than an hour before he signed legislation that could bring up to three casinos to Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick said this morning that there may not necessarily be that many.
The governor said the five-member casino commission being created under the new law can award up to that many licenses, but could conceivably start with just one or two.
“That’s entirely within the discretion of the gaming commission,” Patrick said during his monthly appearances on WTKK-FM.
Patrick also defended the commission salaries, which will be $112,500 for a regular board member and $150,000 for the chairman - $10,000 more than Patrick himself makes.
“The compensation compares with full-time gaming commissioners in different states,” he said.
Patrick defended his political ally, House Speaker Robert DeLeo against charges that he held up the bill to ensure more funding for the horse racing industry. Suffolk Downs is located in the Winthrop Democrat’s district, and his father used to work at the track.
When co-host Jim Braude suggested the $17 million horse racing development fund was DeLeo’s “entry fee” for permitting casino gambling, the governor replied, “I think that’s unfair.”
He said the money will be used not only to support the tracks, but also the breeders, blacksmiths, and other related businesses in Massachusetts.
“The industry is not just about racing; there is an agricultural dimension,” the governor said.
On another subject, Patrick said he would support a bill proposing to make it easier for local communities to establish their own municipal utility companies as an alternative to the major suppliers who currently dominate the state.
NStar and other major suppliers were accused of a lackluster response to downed power lines caused by a rare October snowstorm.
Such a bill has repeatedly been killed in committee during the past decade.
“I love the idea of local and community-based utilities, and if that requires an update in the legislation, I cannot imagine not supporting it,” he said.Glen Johnson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.