The casino bill is now approved.
Gov. Deval Patrick signed the legislation Tuesday, in a ceremony in Boston. The bill would allow up to three resort-style casinos in Massachusetts, in different geographic areas.
A five-member gaming commission appointed by state leaders will consider license applications for particular sites, under the legislation.
Could Milford be a potential location? Developer David Nunes has expressed interest in getting approval for a near Interstate 495 and Route 16, and will have to follow procedures adopted by state officials in the bill. A referendum vote in the host community also will be required before any casino is approved, under the legislation. For surrounding communities, a public hearing will come before the commission takes action on applications, according to a press statement released by Patrick.
In a press release, Patrick described the legislation as a job creator.
“The final chapter in the long debate on expanded gaming has come to a close," Patrick said, in the statement released Tuesday. "I congratulate Senate President [Therese] Murray, Speaker [Robert] DeLeo and members of the legislature for sending me a bill that will put people to work and strengthen the Massachusetts economy. I have always believed that if done right, expanded gaming can create jobs, generate new revenue and spur economic growth in every region of the Commonwealth."
The governor stated he will appoint the chairman of the gaming commission, which will vet applications. The state attorney general and state treasurer will each appoint another member. The remaining two members will be appointed by two out of the three appointing authorities. The gaming commission will be bipartisan, Patrick said, with no more than three members representing the same political party. The commission will be appointed within four months.
In a press release last week, after the state House and Senate approved a conference committee bill that resolved earlier differences in the legislation, state Sen. Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge) said he was satisfied that the bill protects the interests of towns that want to host the resort casinos.
"I am happy to have joined with my colleagues in supporting this bill," Moore wrote. "Particularly now, that language was adopted to ensure surrounding communities cannot single handily halt the development of a casino within a host community."
According to the governor's statement, the three potential resort casinos will be located in three geographically-distinct areas, with up to one facility in Region A (Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Norfolk and Worcester counties), up to one facility in Region B (Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin and Berkshire counties) and up to one facility in Region C (Bristol, Plymouth, Nantucket, Dukes and Barnstable counties).
The licensing fee for each casino will be at least $85 million and capital investment, including a hotel facility, must be at least $500 million, Patrick stated. The state will receive 25 percent of gross gaming revenues from each casino.
A slots facility, also authorized by the legislation, will allow up to 1,250 slot machines, and will be competitively bid for one location. That license will cost at least $25 million, and capital investment must be at least $125 million. The state will receive 40 percent of gross gaming revenue on the slots facility, with an additional nine percent of revenues from the facility going to a new Race Horse Development Fund to promote live racing, according to the governor.
"Among many sections of the new legislation, there are specific provisions that relate to potential host communities and surrounding communities," he stated. "Under the legislation, the Commission would be required to set out the terms of the application for a gaming establishment license, and the bill sets out certain requirements for that application. These requirements include detailed descriptions of timelines, location and hiring practices, as well as plans to identify, evaluate and mitigate social, economic, cultural and public safety impacts on surrounding communities. The legislation also requires the Commission, as part of its review of gaming applicants, to identify which communities would be designated as the surrounding communities of a proposed gaming establishment and hold a public hearing on the application before taking any action on the application."