Big Freddy was wearing one of his classic grins while folding his newspaper as I joined him for our mid-morning break.

"One of your horses make it somewhere?" I asked.

"Casino time back up on the Hill," Freddy said. "The House opened the door with a 123-32 vote in favor Wednesday night."

"Without our former Speaker of the House being no longer able to gainsay them," I said.

"A considerable and unexpected coincidence, you might say," Freddy said. "Say what you might about what Sal did as Speaker, he wanted no part of casinos, but he will be otherwise engaged off campus as a resident of one of our institutions for meditation for the next seven years or so. It'll take a while, but by that time the casinos should be up and running."

"It was a big a win for his successor," I said.

"And DeLeo is hungry for a slots parlor near his homeland a lot sooner than there'll be casinos," Freddy said.

"The Speaker has a thing about slots because they're a quick fix for the unemployed, which his home district has more than somewhat. What the Speaker wants, he usually gets, and the House gave it to him."

"Casinos have them," I said.

"And they don't want stand-alone slot parlors bleeding their bottom lines, which could be a problem for DeLeo, because the heat will be on in the Senate where Theresa Murray is taking a look at the bigger picture," Freddy said.

"Well the bottom lines of the unemployed are bled about dry," I said.

"Right," Freddy said, "and there will be more jobs when it comes to building three casinos than there will be for slot parlors."

"I don't hear much opposition to casino gambling this time around," I said.

"Because it's all about jobs," Freddy said. "The building trades are sitting on their shovels. Unions are in this game big time. What they want is jobs and everyone on the Hill is getting their message. It's no longer about social consequence of gambling being good or bad. It's about pay checks for the unemployed.

"But it's also about the government's split of casino takes," I said, "and that's where the governor comes in."

"Correct, and it's not better than a guess what gambling casino takes are going to do to the state lottery," Freddy said. "The state will get 25 percent of the daily take and 40 percent of the slot parlors.

"Well it remains to be seen what part of the take will reach cities and towns," I said.

"Because they're low on the totem pole," Freddy said. "The No, 1 business in Massachusetts is government."

"And feedback is through a network of two-way streets filled with political pot holes," I said.

"The way it was designed to be," Freddy said. "Those we elect are sent to do our bidding, and bidding is a part of gamesmanship for those who want this or that from the bottom to the top and back again.

"All things considered, life itself is a gamble and success or failure depends upon not only what we bring to the table, but who gets to dish it out."

• • •

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.

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