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masscapitol.jpgIn a 106-48 vote, after six full hours of debate, the Massachusetts House rejected the Massachusetts Casino Expansion Act, which had been proposed by the state’s governor, Deval Patrick. The bill would have granted licenses for three large casinos to be built and bring more profit to the state. However, there was also a provision within the bill which would have banned online poker, with violators facing fines of up to $25,000 and as many as two years in jail.

The bill had been facing strong opposition from Salvatore F. DiMasi, the Massachusetts Speaker of the House, as well as from the House Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, where the bill had resided before moving to the House floor. The committee had voted 10-8 against the bill, recommending that it not be passed. With the bill facing such strong opposition, the House cast a decisive vote to reject the bill.

Representative Robert L. Rice Jr. had abstained from the committee’s vote on the bill, citing his abstention as the best way to make his views known. Rice approved of the first part of the bill, which would grant the casino licenses; however, he strongly disapproved of the provision that would ban online poker. Rice had attempted to amend the bill to remove the provision banning online poker, but his efforts ended in failure.

After being rejected by the House vote, the bill is being sent down to a study committee and will have to wait a year before it can again be voted upon.

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