Viva Massachusetts!

Cross-posted from Media Nation: 

Daniel Gross writes in Slate that gambling is on the wane in Las Vegas, even as Gov. Deval Patrick tries to bring it here. Does Las Vegas know something that Patrick doesn't?

Meanwhile,, formed to fight the proposed Middleborough casino, is going statewide at a rally on Beacon Hill this Monday. In a statement on its Web site, the organization's president, Rich Young, says:

The coalition is a combination of religious groups, mental health organizations, business groups, social service agencies and citizen activist groups. They will be coming together under one banner to oppose the Governor's plan to put casinos in three communities in Massachusetts. This is the start of the first organized opposition to this flawed "economic model".

The statement continues: has been at the forefront of this coalition. We were asked to participate in the planning, development and will be active members in the ongoing campaign. I want you also to know that yesterday the coalition decided to structure their organization with a President and a Board of Directors.

I was asked and will serve as the President of the Coalition. Monday begins the fight on a wider scope. No longer is this just about Southeastern Massachusetts. This is about every one of the Commonwealth's cities and towns being put up to bid. The Governor is wrong on this issue and we must rise up against this plan.

The New Bedford Standard-Times weighs in as well.

Hat tip on both items to Cape Cod Today, whose blogger/reporter Peter Kenney was recently nominated for a Best of the Blogs award for his relentless work on this subject.

My standard disclosure.

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21 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Sorry to play the lawyer bit regarding cross-examination, but...

    Daniel Gross writes in Slate that gambling is on the wane in Las Vegas, even as Gov. Deval Patrick tries to bring it here. Does Las Vegas know something that Patrick doesn't?

    ...perhaps gambing is on the wane in LV because LV is getting competition from venues closer to home for people who might otherwise have gone to LV to gamble.

    It strikes me that the relevant statistics are (i) the total revenues from casino gambling, and (ii) the total profits from casino gambling.  Not just statistics from LV.

    • Exactly

      And it is interesting that article mentions people from the U.K., since the governments there have led the way in building up the gaming industry, including getting into the legalized online gambling act (which allows the government both to better regulate the industry and extract additional money).

      I would wager that any decline in gambling in Vegas has a lot more to do with what Raj stated and the explosion of online gaming far more than an ominous "something that Las Vegas knows that Patrick doesn't".

      • au contraire

        The point is clearly that the declines in casino gambling revenues in Las Vegas are a bell wether.  There are no doubt many factors -- including and maybe especially competition elsewhere.  (Or maybe people are just getting tired of it all.) In any case, the news undermines rosy revenues projections for any proposed MA casinos.

        • Also,

          because so many states have decided to introduce gambling as a source of revenue, there is little data to predict what those revenue streams will be once the industry is so highly diluted (or saturated with multiple casinos) across the country.  I'd like to see projections ten or twenty years into the future based on proposed numbers of casinos.  I haven't seen or heard anything presented on that topic.  It's just plain common sense to think that there is a finite amount of income to be had in the gaming industry.  Not everyone enjoys craps (although I do), blackjack or slots.

        • I have no doubt about that

          In any case, the news undermines rosy revenues projections for any proposed MA casinos.

          Remember the Rosey Scenarios that analysts, accounting firms and other entrail readers would produce--nationwide, not just in MA--that would show that taxpayer-supported conference centers, sports stadia, and so forth would be money trees?  Oddly enough, the Rosey Scenarios never panned out. Well almost never.

          I suspect thaat the same thing will happen with casino gambling in MA.

          Actually, I wonder.  Is DPatrick's proposal for three casinos in MA a Machiavellian one.  That is, he would divide the market for casino gambling in southern New England so much that it will reduce or eliminate the profiability of any of them?

          • More Casinos

            Raj; Why would we care if these casinos turned out to be mega profitable? We are not the ones putting up the investment to build them. If someone wants to pony up a billion dollars to build something then my guess is that they have reason to think they will suceed. Am I wrong in thinking this move by the governor is merly attempting to give them permision to construct? That said I am sure plenty of contractors will be more than happy to start building without concern for the "developers" ultimate bottom line.

            • Why care?

              "Why would we care if these casinos turned out to be mega profitable?"

              Because the primary reason sold for allowing the gambling in the first place was revenue generation.  Its difficult to have hopes for revenue generation if the business itself isn't profitable.

              • Jaded Argument ...

                Revenue is not profit. A business will generate revenue wether or not it is profitable. The state will benifit from that revenue. That isn't the question. The question is HOW MUCH revenue and how much benifit.

                Proponents say the revenue will be HUGE and thus favor casino passage because the state will benifit HUGELY, thus meriting tolerance to risk potential asthetic damages.

                Opponents say revenue will be small and thus not worth the risk of any potential asthetic damages.

                Thats a double negative argument.

                If revenue is small it is likely the casinos would fail. If they fail their would be no asthetic damage, they would get sold off in a bankruptcy fire sale and the highway improvements remain for free. Investors would have moved some fraction of a Billion dollars into the state from elsewhere and leave it here in the form of bad business residue. Ah well, thats what they get for gambling.

                If revenue is huge the proponent argument holds.

                So why do we insist on taking a position as to wether or not we desire the casinos to succeed financialy? Its not our gamble, is it?

                • If profit is <0...

                  ... the place is unlikely generating the predicted revenue.  Also as profits are the measure of the sustainability of a business.  Hard to base a tax policy on revenues from an unsustainable business sector.

                  I understand your distinction, but because we are focused on revenues doesn't mean that profitability isn't a huge consideration.

                  • Why?

                    To your question "but because we are focused on revenues doesn't mean that profitability isn't a huge consideration".

                    That would be a consideration if you are the developer. But I dont see why it should be a consideration if you are the one selling them the building permit.

                    • Its got to be a consideration...

                      ... if you want any developer.  The whole point of the exercise is to attract a developer, and that ain't going to happen if the exercise isn't (or won't become) profitable.  Sure profit is their concern, but it is our concern to the extent that we are trying to create incentive for business development.  No profit, no business.  To ignore that is to ignore what incentives are in play.

                    • Fine ...

                      Last time I checked there were 7 different developers proposing to site casinos. How much more incentive do we need to supply. They did their own independant D&D and decided on their own that it was worth the shot. So what are we supposed to do now to provide additional incentive that they already do not need? Should we present them with studies that show they will lose money or should we let them go with the studies they already have. From the states perspective ... why do we care if the developers are wrong about this?

                    • I wasn't addressing...

                      ... the question "How much?".  I was responding to the question "Why care?".  Obviously they should care more than we do, but we should care to the extent we don't want to be in a situation where we are trying to draw (and budgeting for) revenue blood from a money-pit business stone.

                    • Well I would hope not ...

                      If they were in any way responsible people I would hope they plan on foreward spending a big fat zero from this proposal. Of course I know better than that, but that to me is an entirely seperate issue Should we let casinos in? Sure, what the hey, and IF it works out someday they'll have some extra cash laying around which I am sure they will have no problem spending. Should they be allowed to get away with spending now based upon what they someday hope to see? Of course not ... but that is a whole 'nuther issue IMO

            • I believe I've been misunderstood

              Why would we care if these casinos turned out to be mega profitable? We are not the ones putting up the investment to build them.

              What I was attempting to suggest was that, by spreading the licensed market, it might make it less likely that anyone would want to bid for the licenses in the market.

              As an aside, from what I read a number of years ago, the Las Vegas casinos, possibly because of stagnant or declining revenues from "gaming," have tried to branch out to present more shows, etc., essentially becoming more in the way of theme parks.  Don't know how true that is.

              • Lol ...

                Thats why this issue is so funny and imposible to diffuse. People have this image that this is the next coming of Disneyworld ... Poor Lori thinks this will result in traffic in the order of the BigE and all along this is something more on the scale of the opening of a new WalMart. FoxWoods now gets something like 2000 visitors a day. My guess is you have hit on the theme, diversifity of attractions ... these casinos will probably wind up renting out floor space to flea markets or whatever trying to pay the overhead .. But I dont care, why should we care? If someone wants to pony up, let them. Maybe they wont bid for the licences, but it seems that there is an interest to, so let it play out. What I want to be alert for is any sign that the state would be willing to financialy participate in this charade. That would be a non starter. But if investors want to play, let them. ... ;)

  2. As an aside...

    ...I don't gamble, except when I cross the street and assume that motorists will act appropriately, stop and let me cross.

    What little I know of Internet gambling, I have learned from reading Ed Brayton's web site Dispatches from the Culture Wars.  (Shameless plug that will add nothing to our bank account)  Apparently, the USFedGov believes that it can shut down off-shore Internet gambling.  They can't, and I wonder what on-shore gambling interests they think they're pretending to try to protect.

    BTW, Brayton's site is one of the best for updates on court cases regarding creationism in public schools, for school speech codes, for Christmas decorations on public property and for gay rights.  Well worth a perusal.

  3. Casino Lobbyists.............

    Who is tracking and reporting which prospective bidder is hiring which "legislative agent" - and whether these agents have  registered to lobby the Administration and the Legislature or both? It's a short list really  - 20 or so - of the most influential local lobbying firms.

    Disclosure -- I'm an official legislative from Meredith and Associates.

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