Legislation is pending on Beacon Hill that would permit slot machines at veterans' halls in Massachusetts. The legislation would allow a veterans' organization to operate up to five slot machines for its members and invited guests if it secures a proposed "limited slot machine license" from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Kingston Rep. Kathy LaNatra testified in favor of her bill, H 530, on Tuesday. The State House News Service reports LaNatra told committee members, "The Plymouth American Legion had purchased, many years ago, five poker machines to generate revenue. They were licensed with the town and they also paid taxes for them."

"The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ordered the removal of the machines," LaNatra said, and that since then, "Massachusetts has legalized gaming and opened numerous casinos as well."

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Under LaNatra's legislation, any veterans' organization that operates slot machines would have to pay an annual five percent tax on their profits. SHNS reports the bill stipulates that money generated by the slot machines "shall be the property of the limited slot machine licensee, and shall be used for charitable, fraternal or civic purposes, including, but not limited to, veterans' benefits."

It has been 10 years since Massachusetts legalized casino gaming. Lawmakers are dragging their feet on sports betting, which is already legal all around us, and have yet to resolve the issue of a casino for Southeastern Massachusetts.

This legislation is a no-brainer. Our veterans volunteered to serve and defend their country. If they agree to abide by the restrictions outlined in the proposed legislation, lawmakers should move quickly to allow the state's veteran's organizations to install a limited number of slot machines for fundraising purposes. It's the least we can do for them.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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