09/16/2011 1:59PM

Massachusetts House of Representatives approves casino bill


The Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday night that would allow for three free-standing casinos and one slots parlor. The Senate is scheduled to begin to debate the bill Sept. 26.

The bill, which passed on a vote of 123-32, would give the state’s only Thoroughbred racetrack, Suffolk Downs, an opportunity to bid on one of the gambling licenses. Earlier this year, Suffolk Downs struck an agreement with Caesars Entertainment Group to jointly develop a casino at the track, if legislation was passed allowing for expanding gambling in the state.

Legislation providing for casinos in Massachusetts collapsed last year because of opposition from several influential lawmakers who have since left the legislature. Gov. Deval Patrick has indicated that he supports the bill.

Under the bill, the state would receive 25 percent of the revenue generated at the casinos and 40 percent from the lone slots parlor. From that amount, the racing industry would receive 9 percent as a subsidy.

Licenses for a casino would cost $85 million, and developers would be required to invest $500 million in each facility. The bill would require the establishment of a gambling commission to direct the licenses to operators.