Sunday, April 21, 2024

State Rep. Tim Toomey, a Democrat representing Cambridge and Somerville in the 26th Middlesex District — he is also a Cambridge city councillor — released this statement Tuesday on a House of Representatives vote on state gambling:

In voting to pass the bill to expand gaming in Massachusetts last week, the House took an important first step to secure new sources of revenue, provide both temporary and permanent jobs, and implement casino gaming in the commonwealth in a responsible manner.

The legislation would provide up to 15,000 jobs, $300 million to 500 million in annual tax revenue, and an immediate $260 million in licensing fees to partially fill the daunting budget gap of more than $1 billion we are facing, helping to avoid deep cuts to health and human service programs, educational programs, and public safety institutions. The House bill would also provide much-needed local aid to cities and towns across the commonwealth, including $848,805 for Cambridge and $1.2 million for Somerville. Without this aid, the proposed 4 percent cut to municipalities would be particularly devastating.

After a thorough and vigorous debate on the House floor during which I voted in favor of several amendments to strengthen the protections provided in the bill, the final legislation approved by the House offers a well thought-out approach to expanding gaming in the state. It would increase revenue and create jobs while mitigating community impacts and implementing a comprehensive regulatory structure, allaying many of my concerns about the impacts the legislation will have on families, local communities and performing-arts venues.

In addition to the jobs and revenue that will be created, the bill specifically directs $3 million to a tourism fund, $5 million to addiction treatment programs, and $25 million to work force development programs, all programs I have fought to fund at higher levels throughout my tenure in the House.

Overall, I am pleased with the House’s responsible approach to expanding gaming in the commonwealth, and I will remain engaged in the legislative process as the measure is debated by the Senate and finalized in a joint Conference Committee.