BOSTON-The state’s gambling study commission held its last hearing and is planning to file its report by the end of the year. The commission was created to explore whether the state should expand its definition of legalized gambling.

An expansion of the definition would allow gaming casinos to be built in the state. Proponents of allowing casino gambling in the state contend that casinos in Connecticut, such as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, are getting millions of dollars that would otherwise remain in the state. But opponents insist that the social ills that tend to accompany casino gambling would end up costing more than the gains in tax revenues and job creation.

The Wampanoag tribe of Martha’s Vineyard has been trying for years to build a gaming casino. A spokesperson for the tribe has told that the tribe acquired a parcel in southeastern Massachusetts for that purpose but has declined to reveal the exact location. The Mashpee Wampanoags, a separate tribe, and the Nipmucs, which are based in Sutton, have also expressed interested in developing a casino in the state, although they have yet to be federally recognized as a tribe. A tribe cannot build a casino without federal recognition of its status.

The staff director for Senator Sue Tucker, a longtime opponent of legalizing gambling in the state, tells that the commission heard testimony on both sides of the issue. When the legislature meets again next month the decision will be made whether to take up the issue again. A bill to expand the definition of legalized gambling has been introduced a number of times in the state legislature, most recently this past May, but has never been able to garner enough legislative support. But with the economy in a deep recession and the state facing a potentially huge budget deficit, it remains to be seen whether the bill would have more support this time around.

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