BOSTON—Gov. Deval Patrick said Tuesday he may not get to sign a casino bill this year because of disagreement over whether to allow slot machines at racetracks.
The governor said the differences between himself and House Speaker Robert DeLeo on slots may be too great to overcome. He said he still does not support slots at race tracks, while DeLeo has said racetrack slots are necessary to save jobs.
"I'm not sure there is going to be a bill," Patrick told reporters while dropping by a Statehouse press office.
The governor said he would support other measures to help the struggling racing industry, including increased purses.
"I think there is a compromise I could support that offers some incentives for traditional racing," he said. "I do not know exactly what that is."
DeLeo released a statement saying the House casino proposal was the only one that would bring a $100 million immediate boost to local aid funds because of slots at the tracks. DeLeo said the aid would help bring property tax relief to taxpayers across the state.
Senate President Therese Murray has said she opposes racetrack slots. She declined comment Tuesday.
The governor also said the key players in the gambling debate have been talking about each other rather than to each other.
"There are a lot of messages being sent through what someone described as carrier pigeons," he said. "I think there has to be some conversation directly with the principals."
The governor has said he wanted to be heavily involved in casino talks to make sure a bill would come to his desk that he could sign.
A six-member legislative panel is working to craft a compromise measure between the House bill, which allows racetrack slots, and the Senate version, which does not.
The House bill calls for two resort-style casinos and allows up to 750 slots at each of the state's four racetracks. The Senate bill calls for three resort-style casinos.