DeLeo likes ponies

Ones that fly, have big poofy hair you can comb, and crap gold bars.

If the “conservative” estimates by House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s casino bill hold up, Massachusetts would quickly be giving Las Vegas a run for its money.

According to the speaker’s calculations, Massachusetts could reap twice as much in gambling tax revenues as any other state in the country under his proposal. And 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.

Great, just great. Remember, it wasn't just the lefty/Sal opposition that sank Gov. Patrick's casino proposal a few years ago; it was the unrealistic revenue expectations that turned off the persuadables.

Can DeLeo get his proposal through raw power — the same raw power, presumably, that allowed DiMasi to kill it a few years ago?

And say, who are the reps who voted against the Gov's (marginally more sane) proposal a few years ago, but would vote for DeLeo's craptastic, exploitative slots proposal?

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77 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. What's most depressing

    to me, aside from the speaker's determination that there's no need for a public hearing, is the attitude expressed in this quote from Rep. Ellen Story of Amherst, who should know better:

    Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst, said she has opposed expanded gambling in the past but might vote for the speaker's bill. Story, who attended the press conference, said a gambling bill will be approved considering casinos are backed by the speaker, the governor and the Senate president. "There is going to be a lot of pressure to vote for this bill," said Story, a floor leader for DeLeo. "The outcome is inevitable."

    I'm sorry Rep. Story, but the outcome isn't inevitable if you listen to the many voices who think this is a very bad idea.  

    • The very worst reason to vote for anything!

      Just to get on the Speaker's good side since it's "going to pass anyway"?  Maybe if Rep. Story could persuade enough colleagues, especially those with this attitude, to flip then maybe it's not so inevitable after all.

    • And I hate that Ellen Story is singled out....

      just because she was the only one of these reps willing to admit to the pressure they are all getting to vote for casinos.

      There are a LOT of reps who are personally opposed, and who know slots and casinos aren't good for Massachusetts and aren't good for their districts, but who are about to vote for them right now because Speaker DeLeo is telling them to.

      Reps voting against their own beliefs and against the best interests of their districts is kind of a travesty. Why else are they sent to Beacon Hill?

  2. GLOBE REPORT BOGUS - MMA DOES NOT SUPPORT DELEO'S SECRET GAMBLING BILL

    I have heard directly & reliably that NO vote has been taken by MMA and it has not endorsed DeLeo's secret bill (secret because there has been NO public hearing and no provision of the bill for public review).

    The only reason the Secret DeLeo Gambling Bill will state it "funnels" revenue to local aid is because even DeLeo doesn't deny that expanding slots and other corporate-owned gambling will strip revenue from the lottery - which currently funnels money to local aid.

    Mind you, I have never supported funding government by "voluntary taxation" created by enticing suckers and poor folk to throw their meager funds down a black hole in the bogus hope of winning money.

    But then, I never supported funding the court system by turning judges into bill bill collectors who squeeze the poor and get a meager amount back (and sanitizing that whole unsavory set up by calling the squeezings "retained revenue".)

    A stable Republic pays for its government and the shared structure of civilization by open, renewable, well- structured and cost-spread revenue structures.

    Currently, we as a state are acting like hucksters who fleece the rubes - that is neither stable, nor the way to fund a representative democracy and the structures required for shared infrastructure.

  3. The really shocking thing

    is that the vote to kill Patrick's casino bill was hugely lopsided -- 108-46.  And now DeLeo is talking about rounding up not just a majority to pass his bill, but a 2/3 majority to head off Governor Patrick's expected veto of the racinos.  Which means we're talking about something like a 50-vote swing, with the sole difference being the leadership of the House.  Something is deeply, deeply wrong with that.

    Take names, folks.  Anyone who voted to kill Patrick's bill, but votes for DeLeo's bill, will have a lot of explaining to do.  Let's insist that they do it.

    • Technically, I should have said

      the "sole significant difference."  Yeah, there are other differences -- two resort casinos rather than three, racinos are included this time, etc.  But, really, none of that is what will drive this.

      DeLeo himself, in fact, voted to kill Patrick's bill.  Did he do that because the bill didn't include racinos?  I seriously doubt it, since if that was his concern, the smart move would have been to back the introduction of slot machines into Massachusetts -- once that's done, it's a short step to getting them at the tracks.  I think he voted that way because that's what Sal wanted.

      • $quot;Go along to get ahead$quot; vs real backbone and having a $quot;moral compass$quot;

        Go along to get ahead has been the operational mode in the State House for not just decades, but hundreds of years.

        Term limits are  not the cure - a perpetual learning curve as to complex issues like taxation and infrastructure helps no one.

        From time to time some legislators have voted and worked based on having a personal code of ethics and of honor.  This kind of vote swing sure looks and smells like it (the swing to the other side votes) are based solely on "going along to get ahead" and to maybe get leadership perks.  Changing one's position due to a change in Speaker sure doesn't look like voting determined by a personal code of ethics and honor to me.

  4. Gambling

    While philosophically I've got no problem. This is just going to lead to more corruption in our state government. I'm sure the state will finance the casinos. It  also is pretty much a zero sum game, so we will get a percentage of the take from Connecticut it's not going to solve our budget problems.

    How many state representatives relations will be on the "Gambling boards".

     

  5. Opponents of gambling need to stop whining...

    about a public hearing.  They reveal a woeful lack of knowledge of the legislative process and they sound so much like the Republicans with their "start all over" arguments about health care.  

    This issue needs to be debated on the floor of the House and brought to a conclusion.

    There are lots of reasons for votes to change from prior years. Certainly, those members who did not support the Governor's plan last time specifically because it included no relief for the tracks now have a reason to vote for the bill.

    There are those members who are concerned with jobs and the economy who are switching. The last votes on this issue were not cast in the middle of an economic meltdown. Many economic pundits suggest that the construction industry may be the last to recover from this recession. Casino projects are one way for Massachusetts to buck that trend.

    For similar reasons, there are members who support public services looking for additional ways to broaden the revenue base for those services. Casino gambling may not be the best economic development strategy, but its additional revenue stream looks pretty good when worthy programs are getting eliminated or cut to the bone.

    We can bemoan the fact that we are prey to this legislation because our tax structure does not allow us to pay for the services we want in fair and progressive ways. But, until that day comes, we need to consider every alternative for creating revenue streams that allow us to meet our needs. Inflated revenue projections do not enlighten the public debate, but the arguments appear to me to be about how much additional revenue will be generated. Any additional revenue needs to be considered a plus for those worried about how the state pays for services.

    • The recession is irrelevant

      Until we reach full employment and the state has the ability to grow money on trees, anything which creates jobs and increases revenue is good regardless of the economy, barring other side effects that make it bad. But those side effects don't change just because the economy does, and neither do the jobs and revenue it will create.

      Anyone who buys the jobs/revenue line should've voted for it last time. The bigger question is whether The jobs/revenue claims are true.  

      • Patrick - casinos don't $quot;create$quot; jobs, they cannibalize jobs from other businesses

        Except for short term construction jobs which I would rather see rebuilding infrastructure, like the condemned parking garage at UMASS Boston, for one project.  Can't get parking fees from a condemned garage, now can we?

        • I recognize the possibility that that's right

          Which is why I support an independent cost-beneft analysis. But I'd like to see some data on that from unbiased sources.

          I don't really trust either side of this debate. A lot of the casino proponents either have a financial stake in the casinos or think gambling at the casino will solve all their money problems.

          But a lot of the opponents are moralist crusaders who are more concerned with protecting irresponsible adults from themselves than with legitimate policy goals.  

          • Well, I have no financial stake and am a 62 year old former Detroiter

            Moral crusader/hell no.  Myth buster?  Old Street fighter, trench warrior, maverick of last resort - well yes.

            And a die hard believer in democracy - I HATE the lies and bought results and craven "go along to get along" culture.

            Guess that is why I am self employed, Patrick.  I don't eat manure.  

          • There may be times

            when ascribing motives ("moralist crusaders who are more concerned with") is justified. I don't think this is one of those times, and it seems like attempted mind-reading. That borders on ad-hominem. Please stick to debating the substance; there's plenty of it.

            • It's not attempted mindreading

              It's a response to several of the comments I've seen which are qyuite explicitly more focused on protecting adults from themselves than on good policy.

              Two particular lines of argument here irk me: 1. Casinos prey on poor people. No, they prey on greedy people, of any income level. Adults should be free to make their own decisions; if you lose your life savings gambling, that's your fault, not the casino's. You could argue that perhaps poor people are less likely to be informed of the true odds. That's easily remedied; just post the odds of winning the jackpot at any given game near the table or machine it's played at.

              2. The jobs they create aren't good jobs. Still better than no jobs. Once again, very paternalistic argument. Child labor is illegal in Massachusetts; adults should be free to make their own decisions about whether the jobs available are better than their current situation

              Ad hominem attacks which go directly to the credibility of the speaker/writer, when the speaker/writer has not offered evidence from an independent source, are quite appropriate.

              The USS Mass website in particular has no credibility because it tries to confuse the issue of slots with the larger issue of casinos. The resort part of a resort casino may well have enough positive economic impact to offset any disadvantages of the casino itself, assuming for the moment that casinos do have a net negative impact.

              • No, they are not

                Ad hominem attacks which go directly to the credibility of the speaker/writer, when the speaker/writer has not offered evidence from an independent source, are quite appropriate.

                They are never appropriate. If you disagree with a comment's substance, refute it. Blanket statements about what "some Opponents are more concerned with" are unfair and too vague to refute effectively.  

                • I don't agree

                  I think there are times when ad hominem arguments are valid in forums like this, especially when countering posters whose motives for posting here are questionable (i.e. "trolls") or to counter arguments based purely on the self-declared authority/expertise of the poster. Of course, grossly insulting or offensive ad hominem attacks are never appropriate.

                  • it's the assertions that get me

                    For example:

                    The USS Mass website in particular has no credibility because it tries to confuse the issue of slots with the larger issue of casinos.

                    Is this true?  I have no cite or example, so I'm left to decide if I trust PatrickLong's assessment.  Given that the rest of his posts in this thread tend towards hyperbole coupled with a magic ability to know people's true motivations, I'm inclined to disbelief.  

                    The personal attacks are just the icing on the cake.

                    • huh

                      I'm sorry if you have trouble looking up the website of an organization I've explicitly named.

                      Here's a link: http://uss-mass.org/local_busi...

                      It's full of unsourced assertions about the negative impact of casinos, or assertions whose "sources" it doesn't make clear. There are several footnotes but it offers no guide to the sources behind the footnotes, so they're useless.

                      Additionally, it makes the assumption in at least one place on the above page that all casinos WILL have slot machines. That just confuses the issue.  

                    • why should I be the one looking it up?

                      You're the one making the assertion, the burden is one you to back it up.  This is a discussion, not legos.  Claiming that you gave me the organizations name, so I should be able to construct the argument is exactly why I don't find you credible.

                      Same with your new set of assertions.  You're guilty of exactly what you're accusing them of.  

                      It's full of unsourced assertions about the negative impact of casinos, or assertions whose "sources" it doesn't make clear. There are several footnotes but it offers no guide to the sources behind the footnotes, so they're useless.

                      At least THEY have footnotes.  

                    • That makes no sense

                      I gave you a source. I gave you a link to exactly what I'm talking about.^1 Claiming that I'm making unsourced  assertions is absurd.^2

                      What good are "footnotes" that don't have a source? Look, I'm making lots of superscript numbers too.^3 Does that make me more credible? If not, your argument fails.^4

                    • um, no

                      You didn't give me a source.  You made a bunch of claims about an organization.  When I asked for backing, you give me a link to their site and mocked me for not looking it up.

                      Again, you're the one attacking these folks.  It's up to you to provide something concrete. An example, for example.

                      I think you missed my point about the footnotes.  

                    • Also

                      Knowing people's true motivations doesn't require magic when they come right out and say it. Claiming that casinos prey on poor people, or complaining that the jobs they create aren't good enough, without evidence that they take away other jobs, is strong evidence of concerns other than good policy. Protecting adults from the impact of their own decisions is not a legitimate goal of government policy.  

                    • That evidence

                      has been presented in other threads on this topic. Here.

                      People have come right out and said their motivation is "protecting irresponsible adults from themselves?"

                      I am curious - ARE there casinos that do not have slot machines?

                    • I'm not so sure.

                      Protecting adults from the impact of their own decisions is not a legitimate goal of government policy.

                      That's clearly an opinion not everybody shares... and I'm not talking about the folks way at the end of the spectrum either.

                      After all, no man is an island.  Everybody's got family, neighbors, jobs, that sort of thing.  It's not at all obvious that the negative impact of one person doesn't also impact others.

                      Plus I'm pretty sure I read something about General Welfare in some, what was it, The Statement of Freedom in 1778.  Something like that, I can't ever seem to get the title right.

                      I get that you don't feel that protecting adults from the impact of their own decisions is not a legitimate goal of government policy, but do you get that many folks don't agree with that statement completely?

                    • Two words

                      Helmet Law

                    • You haven't convinced me that helmet laws are a good idea n/t

                    • Nor was I trying to

                      My point is that the Commonwealth has already decided that sometimes it's worth protecting adults from their bad choices.  

                    • Also...

                       * seat belt law * building code for owner occupied buildings * prescription requirements for controlled medicine * drugs which are outright illegal * prostitution prohibition

                      It turns out that most people aren't card carrying libertarians.

                    • you don't have to be a card-carrying libertarian to believe in freedom

                      Libertarians are often wrong. But they are right that it's not the government's job to protect adults from themselves. It it, however, the government's job to protect other people from one person's bad decisions. So my question here is which one the casino debate is about. Too many of the comments here are oriented toward protecting adults from themselves. The fact that we do it now doesn't make it ok. At all. That's a very reactionary argument that I don't think you want to resort to.  "Well, we've always allowed white people to own black people, so it's only right that men should own women too." But while we're on the topic, my analysis of those laws you've mentioned:

                      Helmet and seatbelt laws on government-owned roads can be justified by the government's interest in 1) preventing the extra traffic that comes with a really bad accident vs. a minor one, which is determined in part by the injuries received, and 2)The government's interest in minimizing the unnecessary use of its emergency response personnel. You could look at seatbelt/helmet fines as essentially a kind of compulsory insurance. You pay the fines to pay for the extra costs you are likely to impose on the state. As long as there's no jail time involved, this is reasonable.

                      Prescription drugs laws: the average adult doesn't know enough about the impact of a lot of drugs to use them responsibly without medical advice. The analogy for casinos would be the claim that tje average adults doesn;t understand their betting odds well enough to use them responsibly. This is solved by posting that information as well as warnings about addiction in a prominent location near machines/tables. But while we're on prescription drugs, a lot of the rules there are counterproductive. The level of restrictions placed on experimental drugs result in a lot of people dying from treatable diseases just because we don't want a few to die from the side effects of experimental medicine. With proper warnings, doctors should be able to prescribe experimental drugs.

                      Recreational drugs/prostitution: Bans on smoking anything in public places protect the lungs of the innocent. Similarly for bans on public use of drugs which may result in violence. OUI laws protect innocent people from the risks imposed by another person's use of drugs. Laws prohibiting children from using drugs or becoming/using prostitutes are reasonable. But prohibiting adults from doing what they want to do under circumstances that don't hurt or threaten anyone else's life, liberty, or property is a fundamental abuse of government power.  

                    • Weak tea.

                      You want freedom?  Move to Somalia.  We live in a community, where the actions of one person do impact the rest of us.  C'mon -- you're setting up strawmen left, right, and south.

                      Your arguments about why the other ways we restrict personal freedom are weak too.  Look, if a person doesn't have a seat belt we still need to send fire, EMS, police personnel.  If you crash on a motorcycle, they'll still need a spatula.  As for prescription drugs, indeed the average person doesn't know -- but they could certainly know that the drug is dangerous to take in general, and should only be taken upon the advice of a doctor.  You skirted illegal drug restrictions by mewing about children and smoke and driving -- which I think means that you think it's perfectly OK to legalize all drugs and simply maintain the other restrictions (age, smoke, operating vehicle).  That's fine, but again: the vast majority of the population in America doesn't agree with you.  Perhaps the vast majority of America realizes that it is sometimes appropriate to restrict personal freedoms when the aggregate impact of exercising that freedom has a substantial detrimental impact on the community.

                    • When it has a detrimental impact on others, I agree with you

                      And once again, this appeal to popular opinion is a worthless argument. The majority of Americans opposed HCR at the time it passed; does that make it wrong?

                      P.S. You're in such a rush to argue that you didn't even notice I support seatbelt/helmet laws.  

                    • Oh I noticed.

                      That's why I mention the EMS, spatula, etc.  The point is that your logic for supporting seatbelts (it lessons the traffic impact and the emergency response necessities) isn't likely to be substantially true.  It certainly does reduce the extent of injuries.  Does it reduce health care costs?  In the case of motorcycle accidents, I'm not really sure -- I'd imagine that death at the scene is pretty cheap, whereas years of rehab because everything but the head was injured is quite expensive.

                      I think you're just stretching to justify.  My hypotheis remains: the community at large does support freedom-limiting rules and regulations in the name of community health and welfare, and restricting casinos is just another example of that.

                      I get that you disagree, and that you're even willing to make statements that it's just flat out wrong to implement such restrictive policies.  I just disagree -- as do most Americans (in the general sense), I'd point out.  Where folks come down on casinos of various flavors varies widely, of course.  It's quite often a function of distance away, I'd bet.  0-10 miles away is bad.  10-20 miles away is less bad.  20-60 miles away is pretty good.  60+ miles away?  Don't much care.

                    • helmet/seatbelt laws

                      What are you defining as substantially true? Given that the invasion of personal freedom is slight, the benefit doesn't need to be big to justify it.

                      Your hypothesis remains irrelevant. Once again, public opinion is not something you get to use if you want to have a policy discussion. It's completely irrelevant to good policy, except to the extent that VERY unpopular policies might be impossible to implement due to public backlash. But you'd probably need to be around the 70-80% opposed mark before that becomes an issue. And even then, are we talking 80% just think it sounds unnecessary or 80% hate it with every fiber of their being? That makes a big difference. Even if the majority of MA residents oppose casinos, I doubt it's a big enough or intense enough majority to make building one impossible, so it's irrelevant.

                      There's a big difference between restricting individual rights because what one person wants to do hurts other people vs. restricting them because what one person wants to do would hurt themself. The link Kirth posted actually has some good evidence that casinos do hurt community welfare. I'm receptive to those kinds of arguments. My whole point isthat I need evidence of that, instead of this elitist attitude that poor people might hurt themselves if us limousine liberals don't protect them from having to make decisions for themselves (e.g. gambling preys on poor people, the jobs casinos create "aren't good enough" without proof they displace better jobs).  

                    • No sir, your delve into this thread is irrelevant.

                      Because it is you who insist that curtailing personal freedoms in the case of casinos is philosophically inappropriate.  I'm the one who's pointed out that philosophically inappropriate is irrelevant -- it didn't matter in any of the other ways that were listed on this thread, which completely undermined your argument and showed you out of touch with actual law.

                      But keep fighting the good fight for freedom, if that's what you think it is  :rolleyes

                    • of course casinos would impact non gamblers

                      To argue that they wouldn't is idiotic. No one -- not a single person -- is arguing such, even the strongest proponents.

                      Slot parlors and casinos would

                      • put a tremendous strain on local businesses in the region (Atlantic City went from 250+ restaurants, bars and clubs to less than 60, Detroit's lost 20% of their small businesses since casinos went in).
                      • put a tremendous strain on state, county and community resources -- ie a 10% hit to the state lottery, which goes to cities and towns, would be $100 million -- or roughly 1/4 of what DeLeo's hopelessly rosy numbers project we'd bring in.
                      • wreak potential devastation on families and friends of addicts, who would double in terms of population to a full 5%. For the math handicap, we're now talking about 1 in 4 families being impacted by a gambling addict

                      That's just a few off the top of my head. I'm sorry, but your argument is either inherently dishonest or deeply flawed.

                      As for the USS-Mass website, bear in mind USS Mass is a citizen-volunteer organization without much money at all. The slot lobbies have literally spent 4+ million dollars in the past 3 years lobying this state to legalize slot machines, paying people off to write whatever they want them to and use whatever type of citation you'd prefer most, whereas USS Mass had a couple volunteers who poured endless hours of their life (and personal money) into that website. They did an excellent job, so please stop insulting them. They're not perfect, but they're not getting a 6 figure salary every year to make it perfect either -- like most normal people, unlike powerful special interests, they have to balance activism on the issues that matter tot hem most with their jobs, family and mortgage.  

                    • Way to go, Ryan

                      I'm almost on your side yet you accuse me of dishonesty. Good way to win converts. For the record, I oppose racinos and oppose the Speaker's bill. I am convinced that casinos have a strong downside, although in the case of resort casinos I wonder if the upside of the resort offsets the net downside of the casino. And if the only way to get the resort built is to accept the casino, maybe it's worth it.

                      Yes, I recognize that casinos do impact nongamblers. But, just as the casino proponents have an incentive to lie about those impacts to help their profits, casino opponents who subscribe to the "protect people from themselves" theory of governance have an incentive to overstate the adverse societal impacts to sell their nanny state agenda to people who are worried about more leigimate issues, such as jobs and revenues.

                      Most college students with even less money understand how citations work. No sympathy there if USS-Mass can't put together a website of college term paper quality.

                      P.S. Number of local businesses that go out of business, by itself, is unpersuasive. If one company creates 100 jobs and drives 5 companies out of business which employed 10 people each at the same wages, good riddance to those 5 businesses. If the other 5 businesses employed 50 people each, that's a different story.

                    • Who are the $quot;protect people from themselves$quot; people?

                      Don't know if I've ever met one.

                      I just find your logic and arguments offensive, as I do your quick jump to employ straw mans. I have always came to the argument from the angle that the impacts are large and regional, as do the vast majority of the people who are involved in the fight against slot machines. If you don't want to be criticized, don't mis-state the arguments of opponents, or try to trivialize them.

                      As for college students "understand[ing] how citations work," that's another staw man. Note the fact that I never said the volunteers who put the site together didn't know how to use citations, only that they were volunteers, who spend an ungodly amount of time on the site already, who had to balance their precious time with work, families and bills. Believe it or not, as someone who's written a great many citations in his life, they take a huge freaking amount of time. If USS-Mass could afford even a fraction of the full-time employees and lobbyists that slot proponents have, I can assure you the site would be a little bit better, but that would take tens of thousands of dollars regular citizens don't have. Maybe instead of complaining, you should send a moderate donation, with the following note: "I think your website is good and the I appreciate the amount of time you've put into it, but I really think it could benefit from the use of more and better situations," including the specific areas where you think there could be more citations.

                      P.S. Local businesses have huge revenue growth modifiers -- ie local businesses need and use other local businesses as a matter of business, and their workers shop/patron other local businesses. In general, every local job creates another local job. Casinos, like Big Box stores, have the opposite effect, because they try to put as many things in that casino so people don't have a reason to leave it, and because they usually bring with them contracts from other big companies that can undercut local businesses on needed goods. This is why there's no net growth of jobs when casinos come in, because they destroy as many (or more) jobs as they create.  

                    • correcting a few typing mistakes,

                      Maybe instead of complaining, you should send a moderate donation, with the following note: "I think your website is good and the I appreciate the amount of time you've put into it, but I really think it could benefit from the use of more and better situations citations,"
                • They are relevant

                  because they are quite relevant to the substance.

                  So far, neither side has presented evidence from unbiased sources. When the only sources available are biased, it's important to know exactly what those biases are. A bias doesn't discredit their evidence entirely, but it's important to know what motives people have to lie, obfuscate, or misintepret evidence when they can't provide anything from more reliable sources. And no, my statements are not too vague to refute effectively. I've presented exactly the arguments that make me suspicious of casino opponents' motives, and I'll go back and point out specific comments espousing those arguments if you need me to.

                  • Unbiased source

                    Here is a better link to the source I cited previously. This goes to the full article in Review of Business. The link in my earlier comment goes to a page that has been severely edited since I first linked to it.

                    • good article

                      Casino's suck the life out the surrounding community. Really the same thing happens with convention centers, baseball parks and football stadium (Mr. Kraft is trying something different however and it seems to be working). Would you start a business close to any of these venues, I wouldn't - the traffic would kill you - employee and real estate costs are high.

    • Gonzo - WHAT if the $quot;revenue$quot; is, in fact, less than the real costs?

      Too bad Massachusetts doesn't have the equivalent of the Congress's Budget Office, isn't it?  Instead, we just make claims based on unfunded mandates, and a failure to do a competent, neutral cost benefit analysis.  Not whining, Gonzo - trying to protect my quality of life, and that of my children and their children.

      Again, have you ever been to the Detroit or Atlantic City casinos, and walked their neighborhoods?  Have you googled "casino" and Bankruptcy or bankrupt, lately?

    • Whining? I didn't hear any whining.

      I certainly can't speak for anyone but myself, but I wasn't whining when I mentioned the lack of a public hearing on the speaker's bill. Sometimes public hearings are useful. I happen to think public hearings on this issue would be useful.  

    • Relief for Tracks

      This is an argument perpetuated by the Speaker and others funded by the track lobby.  The plight of the tracks in a declining industry should have absolutely NO connection to the granting of licenses to these facilities.

      The dog tracks were already on a decline when their business was essentially terminated by a vote of the citizens of MA.  Whether you agree with the outcome (I voted against the measure in large part because I have issues with initiative petitions having the effect of closing out entire industries) does not matter.  The dog tracks lost out and suffer the economic consequences.

      The horse tracks have been in a steady decline over the last couple of decades as Americans have switched to other forms of entertainment and gambling that is more highly paced than horse racing.  The horse tracks are losing out and without these licenses will be closing in the not too distant future.  One could even argue that the only reason that they stayed open was the potential for slots.

      Now, if we are to have slots, we should engage in an open and competitive bidding for the right to operate slots.  We should NOT give the revenue away to the tracks.  They should feel free to bid on them, they have a substantial advantage with their facilities and infrastructure.  However, they licenses are not free and we should seek to maximize license and tax revenue from their sale.

      Right now all I am seeing is the worst of Beacon Hill.  Closed door deals that benefit a few well connected contributors to the campaigns of the powerful who appear to be receiving substantial payback on their investment.  It is time that this Speaker learn from the downfalls of the prior Speakers and get on with his job, serving the people of the Commonwealth which includes far more people than the owners of the four tracks.

    • whining?

      maybe proponents ought to start showing a little intellectual curiosity and support a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.

      You mentioned health care and turned it into a straw man. The Congressional Budget Office was practically giving weekly reviews of the proposals and what they'd cost America, as well as how America would benefit from the proposed bills. We haven't had a single one of those cost-benefit analyses in Massachusetts on any proposed bill.  

      • I really wish...

        ...you would give proponents of casinos a little more benefit of the doubt that they too are acting and forming opinions in good faith.  To be clear I'm refering here to the real proponents on the merits, not those voting in favor just because the Speaker told them to.  You constantly suggest that proponents don't want to know the truth or haven't looked at the issue, and I for one resent that attitude.  There really is room for honest disagreement on this issue and to suggest otherwise only serves to shut down debate.

        • Most of the proponents don't want the truth

          Otherwise, why oppose an independent cost-benefit analysis?

        • If they were acting and forming opinions on good faith,

          They'd support a comprehensive, independent cost-benefits analysis first.

          If such a study were done and legislators (and their supporters) looked at the evidence, both pro and con, and then came to the conclusion that it was better, and paid effort to create a measured proposal based on that study, I would have respect for those opinions. What I do not have respect for, however, is anyone who votes for this proposal or supports it, on such a fundamentally and irreversible issue, without such a comprehensive study being done first.  

          • I've always favored an independent study.

            I don't promise it would change my mind, though if anything would, knowing it would cost the state more than it gains would do the trick.  You and others have done a great job bringing up the counterpoints and I have given them due consideration as well as made suggestions for ameliorating the most negative potential consequences.  Obviously the information is out there and in my case I've heard a lot more of the cons than the pros and yet have still come to the conclusion that the state can survive, these factors notwithstanding.  Forgive my ignorance, but are you sure there are really NO independent studies already out there?  Certainly on an issue like this SOMEONE would have done one by now.

            • yes

              There are no independent, comprehensive cost-benefit analyses on any of the major proposals from the past few years in Massachusetts. There have been studies on revenue, usually done by groups or organizations with at least some kind of interest in casinos, but nothing anywhere near comprehensive on the costs.  

        • Christopher

          Surely you aren't naive. The studies the proponents use are all funded by the casino lobby or affiliates.

          Gee, ya don't think that might be suspect?

          And if legislators are going to ignore that fact, then they are not doing NEAR enough due diligence which is their JOB.

          • Not that I don't believe you...

            ...but just for the sake of putting it on the record can you list the studies and their funding sources?  I actually have not seen these studies myself.  As I mentioned to Ryan my own exposure has primarily been to information and arguments OPPOSING casinos, yet I came to my own conclusions that they are not as bad as some are making them out to be.  I'm pretty sure organized labor, a key Democratic constituency, favors casinos because of jobs and not because they too are in the tank with the casino industry.

            • What jobs?

              Barely minimum wage jobs - ask the workers in Vegas. The unions are always pro job and not always in the best way, but seriously, they are getting hoodwinked here.

              The Gov's original proposal was nearly verbatim (nearly? try fully...) based on Clive Barrow's study, which was funded by the casino lobby. He is, basically, a shill for Big Casinos. Bought and sold. His studies are lopsided and shoddy but they seem to be informing MA policy 100%. It's baffling to me, I read elements of his work and I can poke holes in it a mile long, as have others.

              I was agnostic on this issue when it first came up under the Gov's first proposal. In looking into the facts, the conflicts of interest regarding those proponents, and the way way way overly optimistic revenue projections and way under counting the costs to the state, I became vehemently opposed. This wasn't just a whim on my part. I really worked hard to figure out where I stood. I became convinced on the facts.

              The League of Woman Voters actively is against casinos and slots. They very rarely are for or against issues - they largely stay out of choosing policy and just host debates and try to stay neutral. Only when they see something as obvious on the facts do they come down on a side. They came out against casinos in the 90s. The LWV is an extremely respectable organization and if you don't believe the rest of us, go and talk to them, read their publications on this.

              What I have seen about the tactics of the casino industry, I see them as barely a step above mobsters. Yes, they are that bad. Have we forgotten Jack Abramoff? The industry is slimy and will do anything to hustle money out of addicted gamblers, and something close to 90% of their profits comes from like 10% of their customers. They are extorting money from people trapped by their ploys - and if you have read anything at all about the slot machines, you'd think they should be banned completely.

              The industry has a thin veneer of "respectability" and "legality" slapped on top (sloppily) of a very seedy underbelly. I don't know about you, but I'd rather they don't get their Abramoff-like claws into my state.

              • see reply to Ryan below

              • Barely minimum wage in Vegas?

                Where are you getting this?  I've met folks who are members of the Culinary Union in Vegas and trying to get them to trash their union is about as tough as it gets.  Plus the data doesn't support your claims.  Look at the BLS data on wages for food prep and serving locations for Vegas v. Reno (union v. non-union).  For waiters and waitresses the median wage differential is 30%, for non-restaurant servers it's 31%.  That doesn't include non-wage benefits Culinary has won, such as free health insurance, a defined benefit pension plan plus a 401(k) with free financial advice, a training center, and a 0% $20,000 loan for down payment assistance for first time home buyers.  Let's conservatively estimate the value of those benefits at 25% of wages - that's a 50% plus wage differential for being in the union.  

                So the question around job quality needs to be: is it reasonable to assume that the unions can extract a card check agreement from the resort casino developers, if so, then these jobs stand a good chance of being high benefit food service jobs.  The $6 an hour figure includes Mississippi, Louisiana and other non-union markets, it includes the tiny outposts throughout Nevada and it includes the increasingly rare native american non-union casino.  When the casino industry is highly unionized, the jobs are high quality jobs.      

            • not jobs

              Union jobs. Unions have been losing tens of thousands of people just about every year for decades now, so any chance to add a few people to their count is important to them. I get that.

              However, casinos don't add a net growth in jobs. They take away just as many, or more, jobs in the long run. Those jobs generally aren't union jobs though, so it's not bothering the unions that much to jump on this battle. I think they're being shortsighted and they're certainly pushing bad policy for society in general, but I understand their feelings of desperation.  

              • Clarification for Lynne and Ryan

                I am not versed enough to forcefully make the unions' case for jobs myself; I was just pointing out that the argument is there and suggesting that the unions have their own reasons to be pro-casino other than industry ties, and that that is generally speaking a constituency Democrats favor.

  6. If slots get legalized now, everyone knows they will spread...

    ...to the rest of the state 'as needed' for more revenue.

    If the House rejected slots legalization last time 108-46, how is it somehow now wildly popular, on its way to a veto-proof majority?

    After casinos in new england and across the country have been failing in the recession, and the state economies that relied on them are struggling much worse than the ones that didn't, this is going to be our plan for economic recovery?

    "There is going to be a lot of pressure to vote for this bill," said Ellen Story (D-Amherst), a floor leader for DeLeo. "The outcome is inevitable." MassLive story

    Wow. Even members personally opposed to casinos are going to have to vote for it? How is that a defensible vote?

    If Speaker DeLeo let his members vote in the best interest of their districts, legalized slots and casinos wouldn't stand a chance.  

    • anyone who votes for it

      saying it's "inevitable" should be run out of office. It's only "inevitable" if they all actually turn into weasel form and do only and exactly what the Speaker says. If they vote against it like they have in the past, the Speaker won't have his votes, especially not for his plan, which is going to be the worst of the worst on the table.  

  7. I'm happy about the resort casinos

    but really could do without the slot parlors.  I've never been to the race tracks so I don't know what they are like. I try to picture what a stand alone slot parlor would look like.  Trying to picture one in my own town and it is not a pretty picture.  What would it be exactly, a room full of slot machines, perhaps a bar area for food and drinks? I know I would never go there. If I was desparate for something to do I'd hit the mall or just go out to dinner.

    I'd rather play cribbage than spend a night at a boring slot machine.

  8. Charlie - Keep THIS post on the front page until the voting is over. Please.

    Let's see the flip/floppers EXPLAIN.

    THIS is not about a "moral crusade".  THIS is about democracy and whether there is a shred of back bone and honesty on the Hill.

    No wonder 10 senators and 25 representatives are walking away.  It is no fun to wear the trappings of power, of being a legislator and creating governance while expected to act like a eunuch and "go along to get ahead."

    To all who will hold the power of their own votes on Beacon Hill - can you look yourself in the mirror, and your constituents in the eyes?

    Some of you can.  I hope the number of honest representatives and senators who hold to their honor and do what is right in their own eyes grows.  Don't vote for polls or preferment - do what you truly believe is right whether or not  you agree with ME or anyone else.

    I will never forget Ed Markey's desk in the hallway, and his early campaign advertisement that the Speaker can choose where he sits, but not how he votes.  How about YOU?

    • When is the vote going to be?

      Win or lose can we maybe not hear about it for a while after that?  Somebody seems to constantly feel the need to bring this issue up and frankly, it is rather tiresome.  Are we expecting it to be brought forth each legislative session until it passes?

      • Vote Will Be Soon

        Followed by slots in the racetracks within weeks if not days of passage.

        The tracks are working with gambling interests and have the tracks all wired for slots.  They were expecting more than 750 per location, but will take what they can get and ask for more later.

        I keep trying to picture Wonderland with all that empty space holding 750 slot machines and the poor people who will be drawn in to play them.  

        This bill deserves a public hearing and a comprehensive cost benefit analysis.  Without either I am not sure how the Reps will vote except to do exactly what they are told to do by leadership in far too many cases.

      • Tis baffling!

        You post each time about this issue being tiresome, yet your mind was made up long ago, without the facts.

        You insisted reports/information posted on USS Mass were tainted and biased, a common industry quirk.

        Professor Goodman wrote about the willingness of many to label Industry reports as unbiased and independent reports as somehow 'biased.'

        In the course of many of us learning about gambling -- most of us had to learn because the majority of us don't gamble and don't even buy lottery tickets -- we've considered the experiences of other states and countries.

        It's not pretty!

        Harrah's determined that 90% of their profits orignated from 10% of their patrons, then targeted, marketed, promoted, solicited and wooed those 10% to keep them gambling.

        Those are Gambling Addicts who move on to exhaust their resources, borrow or steal from family and friends, and progress to commit crime, such as embezzlement.  

        They progress to cost the taxpayers that gap that NGIS noted - that for every $1 paid in tax revenue, slot gambling costs $3.  

        Gambling Addicts have the highest rate of suicides of any addiction - maybe leaving behind minor children taxpayers will support.

        An examination of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the poster children for slots, discloses high poverty rates, high crime, poor school performance, high dropout rates, low college graduation rates and much more not to emulate.

        It might be suggested that you stop reading about slots if you find it 'tiresome.'

        • Here we go again

          You've suggested I've made up my mind without facts and that is insulting.  In fact, I've very rarely if ever contested the facts, stats, etc. proffered by the opposition.  I have come to the opposite conclusion and believe that reasonable people can disagree.  Your second line is just plain wrong.  I have not accused of bias or otherwise cited those studies to which you refer.  Since a vote is pending now IS a good time to discuss it, but so often a diary just comes out of the blue that seems to serve no purpose but to rehash the same arguments.

      • Christopher,

        I find your chronic pro-expanded gambling posts tiresome and uninformed.  At least I try to make my issue interesting,

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

        Seriously, sorry it's so boring for you.  SOME of us actual MASS residents may actually be impacted by slots and casinos.  Possibly both.  Our legislators are bought and sold by gambling and racetrack interests.  

        My state senator tried to stop a public meeting of a regional casino task force that wasn't even pro or con.  My state rep aide responded that the rep didn't care if slots triggered Indian casinos as long as the state could reap at least 5 years worth of revenue.

        I've heard only 2 legislators even acknowledge the potential impacts legalizing slots could have toward making tribal, tax-free, sovereign nations a possibility in MA.

        • What pro-gambling posts?

          The record will actually show that I have never written a diary cheerleading for bringing expanded gambling to Massachusetts (of which I am a resident myself - your second paragraph appears to imply otherwise).  Even my comments have been primarily pushback against the attitude of the opposition.  I honestly don't care whether casinos ever come to Massachusetts, but I agree with the Governor that they are "neither panacea nor the end of civilization".  There are valid points on both sides and on more than one occasion I have proposed regulations with the goal of ameliorating the worst consequences of expanded gambling.  I get that some legislators may have ties to the industry that would affect their judgement, but I do not.  I only come across as pro-gambling on BMG because I'm not towing the absolute opposition orthodoxy which prevails here.  If I were a member of the legislature at this point whether or not I would ultimately vote for a bill which would allow expanded gambling would have to be based on the details.  While I'm not sure of the details of either I think I would be more inclined to support what the Governor previously proposed than what the Speaker currently is pushing.

          PS: I have dial-up and cannot play video.

  9. Local Ordinances

    Does anyone know how on Earth the tracks will be able to be converted to slot parlors without some local zoning ordinance changes or at least approval.  Just changing the nature of a retail establishment in some cities requires an approval for the change, so do the cities and towns have any input here?

    This may be one avenue for opponents of slots at the tracks to proceed if DeLeo is successful in securing passage of the grand giveaway.

    • Towns with the tracks will probably be supportive of them

      At least if the Greyhound vote is any guide. The strongest opposition to question 3 came from communities with racetracks and their surrounding communities.  Presumably because they were more sensitive to the argument that jobs would be lost.  Whether this translates into support for racinos is harder to judge.

  10. A more sensible way to raise revenue for the state...

    ...would be for the state to legalize, regulate, and derive profits from the production and distribution of whatever recreational drugs these people were indulging in when they came up with the speaker's numbers.

    Or, if we raised that revenue through fair (meaning progressive) taxes, then we wouldn't have to set aside 5 million to offset the damage (for treatment of compulsive income-earning?).

    • LEGALIZE DRUGS, THINK BIG

      Drugs need to be legalized, regulated and taxed NOW. When's the last time you heard of liquor store owners shooting each other over "turf"? Exactly. The drug offenders need to leave prison and get either treatment (MUCH cheaper than prison) or just let go, depending on the case. Doing this would save the state a fortune on prison costs and court costs, in addition to providing an additional source of tax revenue. And, it's also the right thing to do. The government has no business trying to control people's appetites, to paraphrase President Lincoln rejecting alcohol prohibition. Combining this with a progressive income tax (higher rates for the very wealthy) would solve the state's budget problems much better than casinos in this bad economy. One thing about the 3 Southern New England States (MA, RI, and CT) is that they have a VERY small land area. Having a few new casinos in Massachusetts, or not, may not make as much of a difference, good or bad as people think. Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are VERY close to us anyway, so I see us as being already in the Casino "zone" today. Some people are MILD advocates for casinos in Massachusetts. They think, "Why not have a few casinos, build something new, get construction jobs?" These people are comfortable driving their cars to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun from Massachusetts, and would politically support and vote for casino opponents IF a particular casino opponent stands for something desirable that is more important than casinos in the state, pro or con. I am one of those people. For State Senate, if I lived in the "Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex (Brown's seat)" district, I would vote for casino opponent Peter Smulowitz (D), because he is in favor of progressive state income tax. I see the ideas of a progressive income tax and drug legalization as being like taking in $20 and $100 bills, and a few casinos as being like taking in Quarters and $1 bills. And, no matter what happens with casinos, I don't think the difference will be too drastic either way.

  11. NO PUBLIC Hearings

    This is what people see - further actions by legislative leadership to exlude the public from its own governance.  I understand the rules may allow it, but is it the preferred course of our government - major decisions without even hearing from the public?  Much has changed in two years since the governor filed gaming legislation, including the legislation, and some allege this will now pass with a majority.  If it's the same and doesn't need another hearing, then why is it so different?  Call me confused.

  12. Revenue Oopsie

    Yeah, turns out that CommonWealth magazine is reporting

    http://www.commonwealthmagazin...

    that the revenue estimates included in the big press conference was the revenues for the casinos and tracks not the revenues for the State.

    The proposal taxes slot revenues at 40% and casino revenues at 25% resulting in lower revenue numbers for the state than initially trumpeted.

    From the aide who released the initial numbers ""I don't know what to say other than sorry," said Lynch, who added the numbers mixup was the result of a misunderstanding and there was no intent to mislead anyone."

    If this doesn't reinforce the need for public hearings to vet the proposal and all its proposed benefits and associated costs I am not sure what will.  They announce the bill with wildly inaccurate numbers and then have to backtrack when, oops, their mistake is noticed.  What other inaccuracies are in the bill that a good vetting would help to bring to the fore?

    • Ohhhhh, maybe, just the

      fact that NONE of these proposals take in the 10 or 20-year increasing costs TO the state of casinos and slots...bet that's not addressed in the bill. It never is.

      Regional blight, a la Atlantic City, here we come!

      Come on folks, we can be more imaginative and positive in Massachusetts on how to get our revenue. We don't need a money-sucking economy-draining non-producing corrupt industry to get our state budgets in line.

      • BLIGHT ALREADY HERE

        The blight is already here in Massachusetts.

        What blight?

        A ton of empty commercial buildings, and nobody buying or renting them or doing anything with them.

        Unemployment remains high in the United States, and broke people don't buy things from what would be new businesses in those buildings, so they sit there.

        When people are broke and desperate, they may engage in behavior that seems "clawing" or "grasping at straws" to people who are financially secure.

        In these times, I advocate the policies of (the more left wing supporters of) FDR, of Lord John Maynard Keynes, Huey Long (D-LA) and Dr. Paul Krugman.

        First, I would have the federal government itself create jobs building things, with training for workers free of charge.

        I would do the exact same thing for energy research and for medical research.

        Why with federal money? Because they can deficit spend, and plan for the future years down the road, without having to worry about balancing the budget or pleasing shareholders every 3 months.

        Why free training? This way, people who want jobs but are not trained in those fields do not have to go into debt to get trained, and nobody will refuse to get into these jobs to avoid education debt.

        To me, on domestic economic policy, THIS is what the United States needs to get out of the current depression.

        Many in power want to push for a balanced budget for the federal government. Secretly, they want to keep unemployment HIGH so that people will work cheap or starve.

        If the federal government gets the courage to SPEND SPEND SPEND, and invest in our future, the depression will end, and the economy will boom as these workers spend their paychecks from these projects. But, it would be harder for the vested interests to reduce pay under those circumstances.

        Considerations like these will really determine the economic future of Massachusetts, not a few new casinos.

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