We are especially pleased to see that the current legislation would dedicate funds to the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Existing arts and entertainment venues potentially will be hurt by the competition at resort casinos, and the MCC can help counter that effect. We hope more can be done to prevent casinos from harming the robust viability of downtown areas.
There are some tweaks we would like to see to the current proposal. A dedicated stream of revenue to increase purses at the state's horse-race tracks — a sop to DeLeo — is ill-advised and should be considered separately on its own merits.
More important, the one-year window for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to claim the license in southeastern Massachusetts needs rethinking. It is an almost impossible timeline for the tribe to meet, given the federal approvals required; in practice, this scheme will delay actual development of a casino in that region, while still shutting the Wampanoag out. It's an issue that may unavoidably end up in court.
We expect to see a clear, fair, and meaningful process by which the oversight board can investigate and penalize casino owners and management, and even to revoke a license if necessary.
But the fact that we are quibbling over these details speaks to the thought and care that has gone into this legislation — whatever strange and difficult road brought us here. Massachusetts is ready for casinos.
: The Editorial Page
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