Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs

Chip Bott

Mass. Slots Bill to be Debated Sept. 26

Suffolk Downs, aligned with Caesar’s Entertainment, hoping to land casino license.

The top Republican lawmaker in the Massachusetts Senate is hoping revenue from expanded gambling will be used to lower taxes.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr has filed an amendment to the state’s latest gambling bill that could cut the state income tax rate from 5.30% to 5.25%. If the state’s tax revenue grows significantly, a cut is triggered for the next calendar year.

Consideration by the Senate follows overwhelming passage of a slots bill by the House of Representatives last week. The Senate is set to debate its bill Sept. 26.

That bill legalizes three destination resort casinos and one slot machine facility by an overwhelming vote and includes aid to the state’s horse racing industry. The three casinos would send 25% of their revenue to the state and the slots facility would be taxed at 40%, with 9% of that earmarked for the racetracks and the breeding program.

Although licenses for all of the casinos and the slots facility must be competitively bid with no guarantees for any of the state’s three pari-mutuel facilities, under the House measure Suffolk Downs is said to have the inside track on winning one of the resort casino licenses. The track’s ownership group has a partnership agreement with Caesar’s Entertainment to develop a world class casino on the racetrack grounds if successful.

Supporters estimate the three casinos and one slots parlor licensed under the bill could generate $300 million to $600 million in tax revenue that is spread across state agencies.

Tarr wants those funds to be counted as general revenue to ensure they contribute to the potential cut.