04/15/2003 11:00PM

Slots set back in Massachusetts

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The Massachusetts House of Representatives rejected two bills on Tuesday that would have legalized slot machines at racetracks.

The bills were introduced at the insistence of House Speaker Thomas Finneran, a Democrat who opposes slots. Finneran had said he wanted debate over gambling issues out of the way before the House releases its budget proposal.

One of the bills would have legalized slots solely at Massachusetts's four racetracks. The other would have legalized slots at the tracks and two other sites. Proponents of the machines hope to use slots revenues to help close an estimated $3 billion budget shortfall.

Bob O'Malley, the chief operating officer at Suffolk Downs, said the votes were not "unexpected," and that the Senate will likely take a position more favorable to the racetracks than the House.

"There's a very good expectation that gaming could be part of the Senate budget," O'Malley said. "This certainly isn't dead."