The topic of casino gambling had been a hot debate for decades in the state and proponents say the 24-14 vote will allow the state to recapture hundreds of millions of gambling dollars that have gone to other states.
“The must-haves for me are jobs, and that’s what it’s all about,’’ Senate President Therese Murray said . “We have over 250,000 people out of work in the Commonwealth, and that’s why we’re doing this bill.’’
The House overwhelmingly passed a similar proposal last month, and State Governor Deval Patrick has said he agrees with the major elements approved by the two chambers. His office said in a statement yesterday that he was “pleased to see continued movement on a gambling bill.’’
It has been estimated that it could take up to five years to set up regulations and build full-scale casinos in Massachusetts, which would include table games such as blackjack and roulette. However, some Massachusetts lawmakers have predicted a two-three year time frame for larger casinos and about a year for slot parlors. However, before any facilities are built, the bills will require communities to approve casinos in a referendum. Some opponents of gambling see this as a way to continue fighting to keep casinos out of the state.