peaking before a state legislative hearing on the issue of casino gambling, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said measures to guard against criminal activity need to be strengthened and revised before gaming should be approved.
The state's top law enforcement official noted particularly that laws relating to money laundering, wiretapping, and criminal conspiracy need to be reviewed and corrected to encompass situations that gambling may cause to arise.
Coakley also called for regulation and auditing procedures to be in place and tested before casinos begin operation, and she asked the lawmakers to earmark funds from gaming revenues to cover government expenses at agencies that will acquire additional watchdog responsibilities if gambling is expanded, including her own department.
State legislators are eager to advance bills expanding gambling, as the state faces a budget crisis which has caused the writing of a budget for next year severely cutting government services, even as state sales tax is increased by twenty-five percent.
Governor Deval Patrick has said casino gambling could earn the state as much as us$ 600 million in one-time fees, and us$ 400 million in yearly taxes, while creating 20,000 new jobs. But some lawmakers point to comments like Coakley's to suggest that hidden costs make those estimates unrealistic. "Every time we hear about the numbers the industry is going to bring in, we never subtract these costs," state Senator Sue Tucker said.
Still, most legislators say its a matter of when and not if the state gets additional gambling. Senate President Therese Murray says a gambling bill will be addressed this fall, and she has said on several occasions that gaming is on its way.