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Northeast tightens reins on legal gambling

Advocates of legalized gambling here in the Northeast appear to be falling on hard times. Governors and other high-ranking public officials in increasing numbers are letting it be known there is no place for casinos, slot machines, or similar operations within their states.

Within the past week outside gambling interests have been dealt setbacks on three fronts:

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* New York Attorney General Robert Abrams ruled that state lottery officials could not legally proceed with plans for an experiment with special slot machines to beef up lottery operations.

* Twenty-four hours later, members of the Massachusetts Lottery Commission voted to shelve a similar test involving coin-operated gambling devices being developed for the commission by the Bally Corporation -- whose activities include operation of a casino at Atlantic City.

* After months of speculation as to whether roulettle tables would be in the cards for the Bay State, despite strong opposition, Bay State Gov. Edward J. King made it clear he would veto any measure to legalize such activities.

His Sept. 13 statement seems to all but quash, for the near future at least, efforts by Nevada-based Grand Hotels Inc. to build a casino-gambling complex in Hull, a once-thriving beachfront community south of Boston.

Promoters of the proposal, including some town residents who view it as a means to boost the local economy and lower their property taxes, are expected to continue their efforts, despite this setback.

Earlier this year New Hampshire's Gov. Hugh J. Gallen and Vermont's Gov. Richard Snelling advised would-be casino backers that such operations would not be welcome in their states. And later, a measure to permit such gambling complexes in Connecticut was soundly rejected in legislative committee.

Thus far only connecticut and Rhode Island have laws on their books to block, or at least make very difficult, the addition of any type of gambling facilities within their bounds. But similar restraints may be pushed elsewhere in the region by concerned lawmakers in 1982. Prospects for passage of such measures, however, are uncertain. Antigambling forces are apprehensive about the potential for being outmaneuvered by a well-financed opposition.

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