UPDATE 4/7/10: Realizing now how many great posts I never saw or forgot about for this list, like Gladys Kravitz’s citizen journalism exposing the top players in the slots legalization effort. Also included Les Bernal’s “Top Ten Gambling Practices” in the list below. Please let me know about other ones I missed, these are both excellent diaries.
Like a lot of Bluemass readers, I have been following the debate over expanded gambling, slots, and casinos on and off ever since Governor Patrick proposed three resort casinos in 2007. There have been some amazing discussions here on BlueMass, but a lot of them have been lost below the fold over time.
The purpose of this post is to summarize the top posts about casinos to use as a reference point for readers deciding about casinos and getting involved in the final week before the vote. I have included my own summary of the entry along with each link. This post is about the most compelling anti-casino entries. There will be a separate post on pro-casino entries, although there are far fewer of those.
Anti-casino posts, organized chronologically:
May 25, 2007 – Why I have opposed casinos in the Commonwealth
by Dan Bosley, Representative and candidate for Sheriff from North Adams
Representative Daniel Bosley immediately dispenses with the moral arguments against casinos and describes the top five economic reasons why casinos are a poor investment for Massachusetts. In order:
1) The “everyone is doing it so we need to” argument is a red herring,
2) The loss of lottery revenue (up to 17%) for local aid,
3) Of the supposed $100 mil we would recapture from CT, $75-80 mil would have to go to a Gaming Commission and even more towards the social costs,
4) The drain on the local economies in the state, especially within a 50 mile radius of the casino, and
5) Gambling expansion breeds gambling expansion, and once we legalize this there are many, many more slots and casinos to come.
He closes by saying “We can do better than looking to gambling to balance our budget. This really is a sucker’s bet.”
Sep 24, 2007 – BostonBiz on casinos: “Cynical and cowardly”
by Charley on the MTA, BlueMass Editor
Charley passes along an economic thrashing of slots and casinos from the Boston Business Journal. They point out what they call the “fundamental fallacy” of gambling revenue; that “casinos generate new money that falls out of the sky”. Instead, the BBJ argues, casinos absorb money that would ordinarily be spent on consumer goods, entertainment, and other local goods and services.
BBJ: “Taxing the poor through casinos is cynical and cowardly. …a policy that will hurt many businesses and diminish even more lives in the commonwealth.”
Feb 13, 2008 – Bailey “gets it”
A short entry highlighting a Steve Bailey article in the Globe about the MTA, who supported casinos while one of their accountants embezzled $804,000 from them to feed his gambling addiction. The loss at MTA was covered by a MA insurance firm, and the MTA racked up an additional $300,000 in legal fees. Interesting look at the higher level financial crimes Attorney General Martha Coakley said we should expect more of if this gets legalized here.
Mar 13, 2008 – An invitation to keep Massachusetts “Casino Free” and a video to make you proud
by Laura Everett
Laura introduces us to herself and makes a plug for Malden and the values that motivated her to join Casino Free Mass. The entry also includes a great video of MA comedian Jimmy Tingle laying out a case AGAINST casinos and FOR Massachusetts.
Laura: Casinos were definitely not in my top 10 issues but the truth is the more you look at this, the more you see how it touches the top issues we all care about.
Apr 15, 2009 – Casinos are going BANKRUPT all across the USA!!!
A list of links to stories of casinos going bankrupt in Detroit, Nevada, and Trump casinos during this recession. She also uses the word “greedosaur,” which i don’t necessarily approve of, but the overall point is that casinos were not a reliable source of revenue during the recession for the states who bought in to them.
AmberPaw: It is not “Kaching” it is “KaBoom” – the sound of casinos imploding.
Sep 21, 2009 – The Top 10 Best Practices in the Predatory Gambling Trade
Les Bernal, former Chief of Staff for Senator Susan Tucker and founder of Stop Predatory Gambling highlights the top 10 industry practices designed to get and keep as much money from problem gamblers and casual gamblers as they can. This rundown is a great read on some of the stuff happening behind the scenes of international casino corporations.
The top 3:
1) Base your business model on 90% of the gambling profits coming from 10% of the people
2) Design slot machines to “approach every player as a potential addict”
3) Always make the political argument be about jobs, revenues and “inevitability”…
That number 3 sounds familiar.
Oct 26, 2009 – A Letter from Somerville To My Friends Throughout the Commonwealth – from Bob Massie
Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994 Bob Massie details his strong opposition to slots and casinos from his perspective as a “proud and progressive Democrat” working on social justice issues for over thirty years. He describes his disappointment with the inaction of Governor Patrick, the unions (for ignoring that slots replace workers), the churches, Common Cause, and (because of the timing) every Democratic nominee for Kennedy’s Senate seat except Khazei. Editor Charley called this piece a “cri de coeur vs. casinos”, which according to google translator means “A cry of the heart vs.. Casinos”. As user Ryepower12 pointed out in the comments, the essence of this post is the line:
Bob Massie: “None of us can escape the simple truth that how we raise money to pay for public services says as much about our values as how we spend it.”
Mar 03, 2010 – Resort casinos will bring down the curtain on performing arts centers
by Troy Siebels, Executive Director of the Hanover Theatre in Worcester
The Director of a Worcester theater details the impact of resort casinos on local entertainment options and smaller venues for the performing arts. Theaters like his, along with restaurants and other small businesses, will be forced to close in the same way as Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, and casinos in Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and California forced the local options out of business.
In short, “Casinos will bring in dollars – Massachusetts dollars – that will then go to out-of-state casino owners. Those are dollars that won’t be spent at Massachusetts restaurants, hotels and theatres.”
Mar 21, 2010 – David and Goliath or Ms Norbut Prevails
JPowell chooses to highlight the Boston Globe profile of Kathleen Norbut, the founder of United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, who successfully stood up to the casino industry when Governor Patrick first proposed them and now continues the fight in the much more difficult situation against Speaker Robert Deleo.
He goes through a laundry list of reasons to oppose casinos, including studies that 90% of the profits come from 10% of the patrons, casinos across the c
ountry have been failing and laying off workers, the ancillary costs of casinos from increased crime, bankruptcies, suicides, family dysfunction, increased child abandonment, neglect and abuse, increased spousal abuse, increased costs for oversight, investigation, prosecution, incarceration and court costs.
Mar 29, 2010 – Will Beacon Hill Make an Informed Decision?
Ryepower12 breaks down the methodology of slots-proponent Clyde Barrow, who conducted the most recent “patron-origin analysis”. He concludes that there are multiple problems with the methodology, including 1) That the entire basis for the revenue percentages comes from counting license plates outside…. the… casinos. Apparently the estimate for how much money is spent in CT by MA residents has been based on taking the total revenue and multiplying it by the percentage of MA license plates some grad students counted. Ryepower12 found other problems, but this is math and statistical abuse at its worst.
Or as Ryepower12 puts it, “when Barrow says, at the very beginning of his paper, that the Center for Policy Analysis does ‘not to pursue a predetermined research agenda,’ it’s very hard to take Professor Barrow seriously.”
Apr 02, 2010 – DeLeo likes ponies
by Charley on the MTA, Editor
Charley highlights a Commonwealth Magazine piece on the exaggerated revenue claims for casinos, including the “conservative” estimate from DeLeo that puts Massachusetts casinos on course to become the world’s most profitable almost immediately.
In fact, says Commonwealth Magazine, according to DeLeo’s numbers “the total spent on gambling in the state’s two proposed casinos and four racinos would dwarf gambling expenditures in every state but Nevada, which hosts 266 casinos.”
Charley also hints at the Speaker flexing his power to flip the 108 (of 160) members who voted against casinos in 2008. Some of the comments here name names of Reps who are on record speaking against casinos but who are being pressured to vote for them this time.
Any particularly important posts I missed? Which are most interesting to you?