PALMER, MA-Local activists here in this small town 70 miles west of Boston are pushing state lawmakers to advance bills to permit casino gambling in the state. The town has had financial troubles in the past few years approved a referendum four years ago to construct a casino.

State lawmakers are not exploring legislation regarding casino gambling now. According to Senator Michael Morriseey’s office, the Government Regulations Committee, of which Morrissey is co-chair, is dealing with existing issues like race tracks and lottery but nothing new.

There is hope though–and that comes in the form of the possibility that New Hampshire might pass gaming legislation to pay for education. That state, which has no income tax is currently under a court order to find a way to fund education besides using property taxes.

Morrissey’s office tells that if New Hampshire does permit casino gambling there could be some impact on legislation here. The office is quick to emphasize that the New Hampshire plan is still unformed and legislators here need to know what that state will do before they react. It is believed that if New Hampshire does allow gambling in its state, the tracks and lottery here in Massachusetts would suffer.

The state could also suffer if the Nipmuc Indians receive federal recognition and are permitted to build a casino. The tribe has been lobbying aggressively for permission and has expressed interest in developing a casino either in Union Connecticut or in neighboring Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the corporate interest in developing a casino in Palmer is waning, as legislators aren’t currently interested in gaming legislation. At one time, Hollywood Casino Corp. had offered to build a $250 million casino here but recently backed out. Reportedly, an executive with the Dallas, Texas-based company is quoted as saying that the company could revive its interest in Palmer if the state Legislature demonstrated interest in gaming legislation.

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