Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Casino revenue included in Massachusetts budget

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BOSTON (AP) — Anti-casino activists are calling on lawmakers to exclude about $73 million in casino licensing and slot parlor revenue from the state budget they are set to finalize this week.

Repeal the Casino Deal chairman John Ribeiro said in a statement on Monday the "phantom" revenue won't exist if voters repeal the casino law in November.

The state's high court last week cleared the way for a voter referendum on the state's 2011 casino law, which authorized the licensing of up to three casinos and one slot parlor in the state.

A $36.5 billion House-Senate compromise budget reached over the weekend includes about $53 million in casino-related revenue and $20 million in slot revenue.

The $53 million in casino revenue represents what lawmakers plan to budget from payments by MGM Resorts International, which was awarded the state's first casino license for a proposed $800 million development in Springfield earlier this month. The $20 million represents how much profit the state expects from Penn National Gaming once its slot parlor at the Plainridge harness racing track in Plainville opens in 2015, state officials said.

The Las Vegas-based casino operator must pay the state an $85 million licensing fee. But about $30 million of that fee is already earmarked for other state-related costs, officials said. And, under an agreement reached with the state Gaming Commission, MGM does not have to pay the fee unless the casino repeal question is defeated by voters in November.

Lawmakers are due to vote on the budget bill Monday. The fiscal year starts Tuesday.

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