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The shifting casino landscape

While Rhode Island voters last year overwhelmingly rejected a Harrah's Entertainment-Narragansett Indian casino, it increasingly seems a matter of time before the gambling parlors in Lincoln and Newport are converted into full-fledged casinos. In large measure, this is due to how, as the ProJo's John Kostrzewa pointed out yesterday, it's a good bet that Massachusetts will soon get casinos:

Watching the gambling debate unfold in Massachusetts is like looking in a mirror that reflects what went on last year in Rhode Island.

There’s a Native American tribe that wants to open a gambling complex.

There’s a lineup of top politicians who argue that a privately run casino will keep gamblers from spending their money out of state.

There are legislators, lobbyists and anti-tax advocates saying that gambling will generate new state revenue to pay for state services.

There are gambling opponents who say a casino is not economic development, will siphon money from existing businesses and will bring a raft of social consequences.

But there’s one big difference.

While Rhode Islanders pushed casino gambling away by soundly defeating a ballot proposal by the Narragansett Indians and Harrah’s Entertainment to build a complex in West Warwick, Massachusetts is moving toward legalized gambling.

If I had to bet, I’d say at least one and perhaps two casinos, one on Indian land and one at an old racetrack, will open in Massachusetts in the not-to-distant future.

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