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Political clash sinks Massachusetts casino-gambling plan

House vote seen as big defeat for freshman Governor Patrick.

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Massachusetts soundly rejected casino gambling Thursday night in a House vote that had more to do with politics than with gambling itself, analysts say.

While gambling interests have seen a temporary setback, Gov. Deval Patrick has suffered an embarrassing defeat in his first major legislative initiative.

Governor "Patrick is the big loser here, in the sense that politically he really needed a victory," says Thomas Whalen, professor of social science at Boston University. "He comes across here as being a real amateur. This was his first big test as a governor and, frankly, he failed it."

By a 108-to-46 vote, the House rejected his proposal to allow three resort casinos and ban Internet gambling in the state.

House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi spearheaded the opposition to the bill, arguing that the social costs of gaming outweighed the benefit of potential tax revenues. "The cost of creating a casino culture is too high. There are far better ways to create jobs and increase revenue," said Speaker DiMasi in a statement. "Today, the big money special interests lost, and the people of Massachusetts won."


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