Gov. Rell, in one of her last actions of any significance, has vetoed a bill that would have created jobs in a business sector she clearly supported as recently as this year. The bill would have allowed the expansion of off-track betting (OTB) in the state as plans for facilities for it were underway in New London, Manchester and Windham. The governor’s positions and convictions are like the New England weather—if you don’t like it, just wait a bit.
Apparently to the governor, expanding OTB is bad but allowing the video, lottery-like game Keno is good; so much so that she included Keno (and the money that comes with it) in every budget she proposed this year. The veto of the OTB expansion kills jobs, may shutter people’s livelihoods, blasts huge holes in municipal budgets and simply makes no sense. In other words, it’s business as usual: Talk a good game but fail to deliver, right to the end.
It would be understandable, even admirable, if the governor opposed the expansion of gambling on moral grounds. In her veto message on the OTB expansion bill, Rell said that people should want to go out to eat because they like the “atmosphere, price, service, quality, menu, and other such factors, not by the availability of gambling.” She called OTB “a worrisome and growing trend.”
Talk about rank hypocrisy. What exactly is Keno if not an attempt to bring gambling to hundreds of gin pumps, crap shacks and “Drunken Clams” across the state (and the millions it brings to the state coffers).
The Associated Press reports that the owners of three restaurants are reeling from the veto, saying it kills their plans to hire more workers. “This OTB would have saved us. It would have made us financially viable to stay in business in a town that is suffocating,” a partner in the Thirsty Frog in Willimantic. Local governing bodies in all three municipalities, which stood to receive about $65,000 apiece from the gambling revenues, have already approved the venues.
Jack Maloney, co-owner of Shea’s American Grill in Manchester said his restaurant will still be successful but, “It’s still going to cost people jobs, no matter how you cut it,” he said. “It’s a sad day for everybody, with no rhyme or reason to it. This is a governor who just wanted to put in keno.”
Rell’s office did not immediately respond to a request from AP for comment.