BOSTON, April 16 (UPI) -- Proponents of expanded legalized gambling in Massachusetts have suffered a severe setback, but said Wednesday they still have a chance at eventual approval because of the state's fiscal crisis.
And in New Hampshire, a threatened gubernatorial veto has prompted Republican leaders to propose a budget that does not include a 39-cent increase in the tobacco tax.
In the Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House late Tuesday, two bills designed to raise from $300 million to $800 million by authorizing 9,000 slot machines throughout the state were soundly defeated.
Slot machines are "a lousy way to make money," Democratic Rep. Daniel E. Bosley said during debate.
One of the bills originally had called for three Indian-run gambling casinos in the state, but that provision was deleted in hopes of winning approval for slot machines. The revised bill, however, was voted down.
In a statement, the Wampanoag Tribe said the defeat of the bills was expected, but "has done nothing to dampen our optimism or our commitment to press forward and pursue our rights."
The Indians' next best hope is in the Senate, where leaders have voiced support for slots and at least one casino.
Faced with a looming $3 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year, Republican Gov. Mitt Romney had proposed licensing two to four slot-machine parlors.
House Republican leaders argued that without new revenue from expanded gambling, the stage could be set for the House budget proposal, to be released next Wednesday, to include tax hikes.
The governor reportedly is waiting for the Senate budget proposal to be announced before deciding how to proceed on authorizing slot machines.
In New Hampshire, Republican House leaders late Tuesday proposed a budget without the tobacco tax increase previously proposed by the House Finance Committee. More than $52 million in proposed spending, to be funded by the tobacco tax hike, was also deleted.
The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has estimated that New Hampshire retailers and wholesalers could lose some $35 million a year in gross profits if the tobacco tax was increased.
Gov. Craig Benson had vowed to veto any bill raising taxes.
The House votes on the budget on Thursday.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Don Carcieri said that next week he would launch a new phase of his campaign promise to root out wasteful state spending and streamline government.
Carcieri said this new phase would involve bringing people inside government together to take a closer look at where there is room for reorganization and efficiency.