DeLeo flips 64 votes

Gambling vote shows dramatic turnaround in House from just two years ago

For a breakdown of the House roll call on gambling, click here.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo takes great pains to point out the differences between him and his predecessors but, if nothing else, the 120-37 vote to bring casinos and slots to Massachusetts demonstrates he’s no slouch when it comes to using the power of his office to get his way.

DeLeo easily reversed a vote from two years ago that killed Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan for three casinos and gave himself a large cushion for a veto-proof margin. The two-thirds majority vote also enabled him to attach an emergency preamble that will allow the bill to take effect immediately once it’s passed rather than after the normal 90-day waiting period, a delay that could have allowed opponents to keep it in limbo until an election referendum.

In 2008, then-Speaker Sal DiMasi, a staunch gambling opponent, urged House members to kill Patrick’s bill, which they did by sending it to committee for further study by a 106-48 vote. Two Republicans at the time voted against killing the bill but later said they meant to vote yes, according to the House journal, which made the margin DeLeo needed to overcome 108-46.

DeLeo went all in and, like a river card in Texas Hold ‘Em, flipped 64 members who voted against Patrick’s bill and won the support of 13 of the 17 new members since the 2008 vote, including Rep. Aaron Mischlewitz, a former aide to DiMasi who won his seat after DiMasi resigned amid corruption allegations. Five legislators who did not vote in 2008 cast their lot with DeLeo this time around, and he also secured the votes of 36 of the 46 members who voted for gambling in 2008. The two Republicans who voted both ways in 2008 supported gambling this year.

Most lawmakers who switched positions said the need for jobs overcame their concerns about gambling, but Rep. Ellen Story of Amherst indicated she changed her position in part because she feared there would be political consequences for people in the speaker’s inner circle who voted no.

Of the 37 anti-casino votes this time around, 29 were from members who stood firm in their opposition from the previous vote. Four members – two Democrats and two Republicans – voted to keep Patrick’s bill alive in 2008 but voted against gambling this week.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

The two members who did not vote in Wednesday’s roll call, Democratic Reps. Geradine Creedon of Brockton and Joyce A. Spiliotis of Peabody, were split in 2008. Creedon voted for Patrick’s bill while Spiliotis voted to kill it.

For a breakdown of the House roll call on gambling, click here.