Both sides are saying that any chance for a gambling bill to emerge from this legislative session is over. Gov. Patrick sent the bill back to the House and Senate with an amendment that strips out slot machines (and such an amended bill would, apparently, need a two-thirds majority, which I hadn't realized), and Speaker DeLeo is saying publicly that any such compromise is "doubtful." There is still time, but neither side looks like it's willing to budge.
While those of us against the idea are edging ever closer to victory, it seems like an unsatisfying win. Most of the state's elected officials were willing to dispense with even the simple step of commissioning an independent study of casino gambling and the benefits and negative consequences of bringing it to Massachusetts. Our own local officials were not interested in a real discussion of what slots or a casino at Suffolk Downs would mean to the people and business owners of East Boston.
Politicians are, too often, willing to go along with something because of the way it appears rather than because it is actually something good. The tax-free weekend (Aug 14-15) that the legislature recently passed is a case in point. It doesn't really help anyone. While consumers may save a few bucks here and there, those dollars are already spent in the state budget, so we're all going to have to fork them over sooner or later. As for businesses, studies show that almost all of the money spent on those weekends is for purchases that would have been made anyway. At best, it's a wash for businesses because they need to pay extra money to have more employees working during the busy weekend, but they are still paying for the regular shifts on other weekends when those customers aren't coming in.
Like the idea of bringing casinos and slot machines to this state, it's all glitter and no substance. Unfortunately, our legislators are like infants who get easily sidetracked by shiny things.