Ring of Fire

Of course, one could make the a similar argument against legal sales of alcohol and cigarettes and many other activities that have a social cost but which people seem to enjoy, even to the point of dependence. I wonder if gambling is fundamentally different. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Somehow, or maybe not, we are related. Distantly, if so. I don’t know her name. We just seem to show up at all the same wakes.

This time she’s got a baby with her. He’s very well behaved, with a full head of hair and a sweet smile.

“He’s got your eyes,” I tell her.

“No.” She replies a little bit too firmly, “He’s got his father’s eyes.”

I look around for the boy’s father but he must be in the other room with the throng of friends and relatives. We chat some more about mostly nothing, just passing the time until we can leave. And that’s when she mentions that she’s a single mom.

Something connects, and I look closer at the little boy.

Ten or so minutes go by, and my sister and mother and I have managed to make it across the room to a quiet corner, and that’s when I whisper to my mother what I’ve wanted to ask, “Is she the one? The one you told me about with the husband who…” She nods before I can finish the sentence.

It was 2007, and my mother and I were enjoying a visit out on the screen porch when talk got around, as it always did that summer, as to the possibility of a casino in Middleboro. “Those places are no good,” my mother said. And then she told me a story.

It was the story of someone she knew – a grand-niece or a daughter of a friend, something like that – someone who wanted very much to have a baby. She and her husband had tried for years to get pregnant, finally, but successfully attempting IVF. The procedure had been expensive. They got behind financially. Way behind. The woman, now pregnant, gave her husband the cash to pay some bills one morning. But while she was at work, he drove to a Rhode Island casino, thinking that maybe he could take that bill money and turn it into more bill money – and in the process lost it all. When he returned home, he realized he couldn’t pay the bills – or face his wife – and took his own life. He was laid to rest in a Middleboro cemetery. His baby boy was born several months later.

“Those places are no good,” my mother repeated.

It had been a year since I’d heard that story. Sometimes I wondered if it were even real. Still, I’d often think about that little boy whose face I’d never seen, whose name I didn’t know.

If casino gambling comes to Massachusetts, none of us will see the face or know the name of every child left without a parent, or neglected by one, or abused by one.

But they’ll be there. The ones that get left off the balance sheet. The collateral damage. The folks who form what we have politely and ambiguously come to call ‘social costs’.

Except that now they’ll live in other towns in Massachusetts, places further north and east and west of Middleboro where, as of now, it takes too long for most people to drive to a casino to lose the bill money in less than a day.

I’m reminded of the map, the one with a circle around each of the three proposed Massachusetts casinos. Every circle represents a radius of 50 miles, and all together they encompass 319 cities and towns. All three of them overlap. The circles illustrate the National Gambling Impact Study Commission’s suggestion that the number of problem and addicted gamblers doubles within 50 miles of a new casino. A ring of fire.

“I fell in to a burning ring of fire. I went down,down,down, and the flames went higher.”

I remember a man, when the map was first published, ridiculing it loudly to everyone who’d listen, pointing out that Middleboro is less than 50 miles from any Rhode Island casino, and insisting that they’d had no impact here.

Not for him.

His son still has a dad to teach him how to tie his shoes, and ride a bike, and throw a baseball.

“It’s all about choice,” they like to say. “It’s my choice, if I want to gamble my money or not.”

But where’s that baby’s choice? I think his choice would be to grow up with a dad.

I think his choice would be to grow up in a world that didn’t make it so easy for his Dad to lose hope. That didn’t use people’s weaknesses to balance budget shortfalls. But he doesn’t get a vote.

How many times have I heard it, “we already have gambling addiction here…”?

I wonder if they said that when they built the first casino outside of Las Vegas. “We already have the problems, we might as well get the revenue.” That’s what they probably said.

And then someone looked over at that casino and said the same thing. And so another casino got built. And now, when people say that there’s already gambling addiction where they live, it’s because of that last casino that went up. The one not terribly far to drive to.

Because building a new casino never just ‘recaptures’ problem gamblers. It creates them.

With every new casino we light another another ring of fire.

In Iowa, before they built casinos, 1.7% of the population were problem gamblers. Three and a half years later, that figure had more than tripled to 5.4%. In New York, the percentage of people who reported having had a gambling problem increased from 4.2% to 7.3% in the first decade of gambling expansion. In Gulfport, Mississippi, suicides increased by 213 percent in the first two years after casinos were built, while in nearby Biloxi, suicide attempts jumped by 1,000 percent in the first year alone.

People will tell you it’s all about jobs, that with three casinos and a slot parlor there’s the potential to create anywhere from 8,000 to 16,000 jobs. But how does that truly compare with creating an additional 300,000 people in Massachusetts who’ll live along a state-sponsored spectrum that ranges from a broken home on one end to a funeral on the other?

In 2010 a state senator from Cape Cod stood during the casino debate and told the story about how, more than once, his father had abandoned him and his siblings on a local beach while he went to the track. This all probably happened more than forty years ago, but the memory of watching the sun go down and wondering how he was going to get home and what he was going to eat still caused the the senator’s voice to crack as he fought back tears. Like ripples on water, a single problem gambler can create a wake of financial hardship and emotional devastation that can last for decades, if not forever.

Had there been no casino in Rhode Island, that baby’s father might have driven to a Connecticut casino to find a reason to end his life. But he might not have. It’s a long round trip to take while your wife’s at work. But if there were no New England casinos, he’d be alive right now.

He wouldn’t be watching casino commercials every day on TV or listening to them on the radio. Commercials that make casinos seem as innocuous as Disneyland, and as brimming with possibilities as a golden ticket to Wonka World. He wouldn’t have had such an easy excuse to lose the bill money and to feel like he’d failed his family. He’d be here showing off his beautiful baby boy to all the relatives.

“All that money’s just going across the border,” they tell us.

I look across the room at the baby and I think, you know what? Let it go…

My Aunt Ginny comes over to say hello, and says she can’t believe it’s really me. I only recognize her from old photographs but, according to family lore, she was the one who took care of me when I was very young and my mother had to work.

Aunt Ginny, whose gravity-defying hair would make any iconic country western singer proud, left Massachusetts for Oklahoma back in the 70′s. I have no memory of her, but love her instantly. She is funny and cheerful and I’m grateful to have her sitting with us, taking our minds off the wake and the baby and casinos.

While we’re talking, a woman with a breathing tube in her throat stops by and says hello to my mother, who introduces us. She registers a flash of recognition, and an eyebrow is arched.

“So,” she says, “You’re the daughter who’s against the casino.”

She says this as if she actually means, “So, you’re the daughter who recently escaped from a mental institution.”

Somehow, even at a wake, these people manage to find me.

Aunt Ginny laughs. “What’s the matter with casinos?” she asks, “I love the casino! I’ve got one right down the end of my street. I’ve won big a few times there, too.”

My mother leans in and whispers in my ear, “Ask her how much she’s lost…”

But there’s no need. Aunt Ginny is obviously a woman of modest means.

I get up to leave. I have a board meeting to attend in Lakeville that evening. Probably another shouting match. I’m tired, I’d rather go home, or out to a restaurant with my mother and sister and Aunt Ginny.

Instead we gather in the hall for hugs and goodbyes, and agree that wouldn’t it be nicer to get together somewhere besides funerals and wakes.

Within the year my Aunt Ginny will be dead, unable to afford health insurance, and living right down the street from a casino.

But that evening her laughter was still with me as I lingered on the side street, decompressing in the quiet sanctuary of my car, safe for now. I allow the wake and the family and the lady with the breathing tube to wash away. All that’s left is the little boy, who’s real now. A little boy with a sweet smile, a full head of hair and his father’s eyes.

If only his father’s eyes could see them.



46 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Each of us will know a family like that little boy's or your Aunt Ginny

    with + 300,000 new Gambling Addicts that are so easily ignored.

    It may even be a co-worker who embezzles from our employer and shutters the company or the next door neighbor whose home is foreclosed for gambling debts.

    Well done Gladys! This is one of your best.

    • My neighbors' long-standing concerns

      Gambling hits brain spots, like abused substances, illegal or legal. Cigarettes often establish into the user as a routine vice. Casino gambling differs from convenience store gambling, because casino play could end in a single fatal episode of throwing all in.
      Many cigarette users stick to their same brand of cigarettes, buy at their favorite store, with predictable frequency, but cigarette smokers loyal to their brand of smokes may exhibit more variation when choosing scratch lottery tickets. Scratch tickets are all the same though in Massachusetts, in that the same three-letter winning codes determine all prizes for five hundred dollars or less. Prizes from a thousand dollars to millions of dollar need
      a better look at the scraped gray graphics to look for winning icons, which become game-specific rather than universal codons (such as the ONE, TWO, FOR, FVE, TEN, FTN, TWY, TWF, FRT, FTY, OHN, FHN and other pocket money prize codes).
      Here’s my neighbor’s paper on having three Massachusetts casinos:

  2. why do liberal women hate casinos

    I love that song, and it communicates something, that people want to take risks.

    I’m sure the guy in your story would have loved to put his money into a project of his own that would yield a big reward. We would be a lot better off if society encouraged men to do that instead of looking for a big payoff at the casino. There were two states with legalized gambling in 1970 and there are 38 going on 39 today.

    Liberals are now dominated by a womanly fear of risk and achievement, and a manly resentment of the rich, which has led them to try to kill off businessmen who try to make it. The result is that these men want to get the big payoff somehow, so they look for it at casinos, and women who want men with money go to casinos too, hoping to score the big payoff that way.

    • Whew! Blinded by the light, much?

      I logged on with the sole intent of re-reading this moving post, not reading or addressing the slanted propaganda of a right wing sexist.

      The post is slightly amended from its original which strengthened my opposition by putting a real personal face on statistics.

      Although it’s unfair to engage in a rhetorical duel with the unarmed, allow me to suggest that those who resort to labels do so because they’re devoid of the facts.

      Recently, I was struck by this article:
      Oklahoma: $7 billion annual cost of Gambling Addiction

      $7 billion — Last year’s estimated social cost to families and communities from gambling-related bankruptcy, divorce, crime and job loss.

      48 percent — Gamblers Anonymous members who considered suicide.

      57 percent — Gamblers Anonymous members who admitted stealing to finance their gambling.

      100 percent — The presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.

      Remember, Massachusetts will have + 300,000 NEW Gambling Addicts. You will know them. Each Gambling Addict affects the lives of at least 10 others.

      Rick Perry’s take:

      “If gambling was the answer, Nevada would be flush”

      A proposed amendment to the state constitution would allow voters to decide on allowing casinos in Texas. Proponents say the measure would generate much needed revenue but Perry said expanding gambling could increase crime and would not produce the economic benefits that advocates predict. “Texas will be a stronger state in long-run without it,” he said.

      And here’s what Texas Republicans say about Expanded Gambling which clearly enumerates everything Massachusetts opponents have been saying(worth reading in its entirety):

      From: Texas Republicans Got It Right About Slots!


      Those in opposition are bipartisan.

      Reports indicate that for every $1 in revenue predatory gambling provides, the cost to taxpayers is $3. How much more simple could that be explained?

      Each SLOT MACHINE permanently removes 1.6 jobs from the local economy.

      You are projecting your own emasculation onto this issue.
      Get over it!

    • And America has gotten so much better since 1970

      Tell us, Seascraper: do you think it’s the proliferation of legalized gambling that’s made America better, or the country’s turn to the far right? Or something else?

  3. Scrapie,

    How are you on Greek mythology?

    Your GOP mythology is perfectly pitched.

  4. And still no arguments...

    …that could not be made against alcohol, which we regulate rather than ban. Frankly as to your first story, anyone who gambles what little money they have available for bills in the hopes of making more money for paying bills is an IDIOT. I personally don’t think our policies should be tailored to idiots.

    • Liberal social policy

      Don’t we generally want to base social policy on what people actually do in the real world? Contrast the advocates of Abstinence Only who want to base social policy on what people should do.

      Understanding things like risk and probability does not appear to come naturally. One could start with books like Predictably Irrational for examples.

      • Yes...

        …and I have consistently advocated for requiring that odds be very clearly posted, among other things, to keep the risk from getting out of hand.

        • Ironically, that may backfire

          One of the quirks of addiction, one of the things that keep addicts from getting straight/sober is a deep seated conviction that they are an exception, that they are ‘special’. That way, their drinking/gambling/using can be excused – their problems ae so much worse than anyone else, who could blame them, how could they help it?

          This is a reminder of why thinking you are ‘different’ is harmful – http://www.daily-reflections.com/2011/02/19/im-not-different-2-3/

          So posting a sign saying – Only one in a billion can win! Only a person who is an exception can even hope to win! – may not be helpful. It may just provoke a reaction of – That’s ME! It’s part of what makes you a gambling addict in the first place – the conviction that you are the special exception that will prove the rule.

          To anticiapte and defuse the snark about my comments as seen in prior comments that ‘for somebody that doesn’t approve of casinos, you sure know an awful lot ABOUT them!’ let me state – I am not an alcoholic, I am not a gambling addict. But I know and work with people who are, and have some empathy for their situation.

    • Easier to ban gambling than alcohol

      We tried banning alcohol. It didn’t work because it is something that people consume in small quantities, and people figured out not only how to make it, but to buy it even though it was banned.

      Gambling is different. You can’t have someone deliver a case of gambling to your house. You can’t really gamble alone (except via the internet, I suppose). You can’t make gambling in your basement. It can more effectively be banned.

      Also, the alcohol industry doesn’t make most of its money from alcoholics, nor does it strive to make its product more addictive the way casinos do with slot machines.

  5. Argument: Prohibiting alcohol creates crime. Legislating gambling creates crime.

    As usual Christopher, your lack of empathy on this issue is awe inspiring.

    Just not in a good way.

    I’m so happy that I took the time to try and write about a real story about a real person who was really effected by the real predatory nature of casinos which really prey on guys like this kid’s dad just so that you could brush it off as if it was nothing more than some idiot’s a mental hiccup.

    There’s a kid out there w/o a dad because of a casino.

    BTW expanding gambling isn’t a policy that is tailored to idiots, it’s a policy tailored to the desperate, the poor, those in search of hope, and those with potential for addiction. Those are the people who the industry and the state depend on for the bulk of the casino revenue.


    • There are also kids without parents because of alcohol.

      If their own parents don’t drink themselves to death maybe it’s because a parent was killed by a drunk driver. Or maybe one parent was killed by an alcoholic parent in a fit of drunken rage. The point is alcohol causes a whole host of problems yet we regulate rather than ban it because we all recognize that there are also plenty of people who drink in moderation and don’t become so drunk that they hurt others. Likewise, there are plenty of people who can handle gambling, do it in moderation, don’t go into debt, and certainly don’t commit suicide. To be clear I was not calling expanded gambling tailored to idiots; I was saying that not allowing it for the reasons you cited seems to only be necessary if you believe that our laws must protect people from their own idiocy. I’ve proposed several regulations to prevent this from getting too out of control, but I now ask you the same question I asked Middleboro Review on another thread. Have you been directly hurt by this, because that’s the only reason I can think of for your attitude of not just disagreement, but anger and hostility.

      • But prohibiting gambling has SUCCEEDED for centuries!

        Sorry Christopher, but your attempted conflation fails the test of history.

        Alcohol had been legal until prohibition was imposed. Society chose to regulate, rather than prohibit, alcohol after the effort to ban it altogether failed.

        Gambling, on the other hand, has been illegal for centuries. The prohibition against gambling has (largely) succeeded. The desire to legalize it is motivated by a desire for money — unlike alcohol, there are no waves of violence, crime, corruption and bloodshed sweeping the nation because gambling is illegal.

        We have a large number of laws to protect people “from their own idiocy”, and those laws are largely successful — and a necessary part of any society that claims to have compassion for its poor, sick, and elderly. We outlaw scams. We outlaw fraudulent medicinal preparations. We outlaw dangerously addictive drugs. We outlaw prostitution.

        While it may be true that “there are plenty of people who can handle gambling, do it in moderation, don’t go into debt, and certainly don’t commit suicide”, those are not the people targeted by the gambling industry. The gambling industry (sadly, like the state lottery) targets its product and makes its profits from those who CANNOT handle gambling, who DO NOT do it in moderation, and who DO got into debt. I don’t know about suicide.

        If society were able to make alcohol flatly illegal, it would. The many problems directly attributable to alcohol are real and significant. Prohibition of alcohol was tried and it failed; regulation was adopted because outright prohibition failed.

        The same is NOT true of gambling.

  6. Not taking a side on casinos, but..

    …imo the moral of that story is: don’t go into debt just so you can reproduce with your own gametes.

  7. So much for heartfelt posts

    So glad I bothered.

    • You got 11 recommendations

      I’d say you have an audience.

      • True

        It’s just that I respect this forum and the people on it so much, yet the first comments received on this post are about ‘liberal women’ and ‘gametes’.

        For four years I’ve watched all the legislative ‘debates’ on expanded gambling and it’s depressing to watch my own party justify addiction and suicide and financial ruin. It’s like watching an episode of Boardwalk Empire.

        When I was 18 or 19 I registered to vote and I chose to be a democrat because I thought it was the party of the good guys. Now I think if I were 18 or 19 again I’d be registering as a democrat only because democrats aren’t republicans. When did empathy become the anathema of leadership? When did legislators start looking at citizens the way Sylvester looks at Tweetie bird?

        I like Senator Karen Spilka, I think she’s a cool cat and all, but what we need right now on Beacon Hill are some roaring lions. People who can stand up against this predatory industry and do what’s right for the people of Massachusetts, not what’s right for gambling lobbyists. They won’t even perform a real, independent cost/benefit analysis! Why? Because they’re afraid that those pesky ‘social costs’ they’ve managed to ignore and underfund might actually show up on it.

        Our own Governor considers himself a champion of social justice and noble causes, and somehow still manages to justify 3 casinos and a slot barn to himself. But when he hears that Mark Pacheco is trying to put slots at the airport, he’s offended – ‘No, we don’t want to turn Massachusetts into Las Vegas.’ If it weren’t such a really bad joke, it’d be a really bad joke.

  8. Is that the best you can do?

    The Gambling Industry’s DIRTY LITTLE SECRET is that they create NEW Gamblers and only profit by creating NEW GAMBLING ADDICTS.

    (Harrah’s determined that 90% of their profits originated from 10% of their patrons.)

    Those GAMBLING ADDICTS create CRIME – that’s YOUR cost.


    Conservatively, +300,00 NEW GAMBLING ADDICTS will be created. You will know Gambling Addicts if this legislation is approved and you may know that little boy.

    GAMBLING ADDICTION has the lowest rate of self-referral of any Addiction and the highest rate of SUICIDES.

    Can it then be by sheer happenstance that Nevada leads the nation, year by year, in such crimes as murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery and burglary? That Nevada tops the 50 states in rates of personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures? That the state’s suicide rate regularly doubles the national average?

    Las Vegas leads the nation in school dropouts.

    Nevada leads the nation in the lowest college attainment.

    A Federal Reserve Study indicated that Atlantic City had higher poverty and unemployment (pre-recession) than prior to casinos. It is necessary to work 2 or 3 low wage casino jobs to rise out of poverty.

    That’s what we want to emulate?

    Find a community that is better off 5 years after a Slot Barn has opened. We’ve been looking.

    And the best you can do is a comment about gametes? Nice job, Laurel! I hope your gametes didn’t put you into debt.

    • OK, but that begs the question...

      …if it is so obviously so bad in terms of social and literal costs, why on earth would ANY state so much as consider it?

      • "Casino Capitalism" didn't work when we tried it and it won't work now but

        when you ask a question such as that, Christopher, it’s clear that you haven’t even paid attention.

        We should be considering how well those states fared during this recession in terms of unemployment and budget deficits.

        Here’s your answer:


        After Ohio voters said NO to casino gambling 4 times, $50 million was spent to persuade them otherwise. Who would think their money was wasted?

        In Pennsylvania, the Gambling Industry spent $60 million to get legislation passed at midnight on the 4th of July that failed to include that well known issue of children and pets being left in vehicles.

        In Rhode Island, Kerzner and Wolman (formerly of Twin River fame prior to bankruptcy) spent ~ $5 million to defeat a referendum that would have allowed Harrah’s in.

        Massachusetts let the Industry off cheap!

      • Why does any company pollute?

        Chris, you’re familiar with the economic concept of externalities.

        Suicides don’t cost the host town anything. Crime and traffic are problems for neighboring towns, but will be covered by the revenues in the host town. The one small patch of dirt hosting the casino benefits, the h-ll with anyone else.

        Is it any wonder that every town within shouting distance of M’boro joined a chorus united in opposition of the casino?

        sabutai   @   Sat 24 Sep 10:30 AM
      • Simple

        Because the right has made everyone so scared to raise taxes that even the left doesn’t want to anymore. The truth is casinos are easy short term money for politicians. Look at Illinois. They said twenty five years ago by allowing casinos we get permanent revenue and close the budget gaps, instead we have another budget crisis and the only solution the Mayor or Governor can make is to build more casinos. My girlfriends hometown of Aurora had the entire life and energy of its downtown eviscerated by the casino meant to save it. The debate between them is not about whether or not to build them, but how many to build and where to put them. Its not just the people that get addicted it is the states themselves.

        Look at Las Vegas, it could have been at several points another Silicon Valley since it has some decent higher education institutions and lower corporate taxes than California. Instead it was a one trick pony that is now on life support because gambling defines everything else in the state. It bet a full house on tourism and real estate and lost when the market crashed. It might never recover to its former glory. Or take Atlantic City where Casinos were supposed to save that boardwalk and make the city viable again, instead even more families stay away, the casinos need to be bailed out by taxpayers, and many have closed and are permanent eyesores on a once prominent seashore.

        We can look closer than our own backyard in CT to see that those two casinos have simply destroyed their surrounding town with crime, drugs, prostitution, and have actually destroyed local businesses and led to a net job loss. And most of the money goes to out of state and offshore corporate tycoons, and the occasional greasing of local politco’s coffers. Legalized gambling is a tax on the poor plain and simple and only those too afraid to tax the rich are courageous enough to tax the poor and elderly. I work at a bankruptcy firm Christopher, a lot of people out there have thrown entire pensions into these beasts and there is nothing they can do but file Ch 7, they are so hooked that they use their tax refunds immediately on gambling and forget to pay us for their legal fees. Plenty of others made dumb bets on real estate and the stock market too and are getting foreclosed. Or they bought cars they had no idea they could afford. Or got easy cash from pay day loans without reading the fine print and seeing what the interest is. Most of these people are old, immigrants, black, or poor to begin with and lack the education and discernment to make these kinds of decisions, especially because no school anywhere teaches financial education and literacy or how credit works. Its heartbreaking. And I know the new ones in IL will temporarily patch our budget, until ten years later the demand to build more intensifies. Meanwhile we will pay for demolishing these foreclosed homes, for the rising rate of crime and social costs associated with these boondoggles, the revenue rates will diminish extensively overtime, and the only way to recoup the loss is to build more. I do not want even one for Massachusetts since I have seen first hand how these destroy other states and communities, and know that once you open pandoras box you can’t close it and one will beget many many more.

        • Why does this Governor

          Seem so insulated from this information? It’s not hard to find. He would, in most areas, appear to be a reasonable person. He’s been a champion of the poor – but expanded gambling is a regressive tax. His mind has remained locked closed about the 3 casino plan – except to add a slot parlor – which he’s previously said he is against. He’s suggested the Speaker and Senate President perform a fresh independent cost/benefit study, yet never pushed for one himself – despite the major changes in the economy since he first announced the plan. Any insights?

  9. Keiko Orral was anti-casino and won the recent election

    This is the first election based on Slot Barn Opposition.

    • The House gambling vote was interestingly bi-partisan

      Middleboro’s comment prompted me to look up the House vote on passing the gambling bill. As you can see here, 8 of the 32 House Republicans voted no, as did 24 of the 128 House Democrats. Usually when you have a 132-32 vote in the House, it means the vote followed party lines much more so than this one.

      Also, the House Dems voting no are among the most reliably progressive of the Dems. The House Republicans voting no are, with a couple exceptions, first-termers elected (presumably at least in part) through Tea Party enthusiasm. Ideologically, the no votes here represent the two extremes.

      My idle speculation is that the Dems voted against involving the government in gambling because gambling is pernicious, while the Republicans voted against involving the government in gambling because government is pernicious.

      • You can't guess about votes

        Several of the newbies were elected based on their anti-position – their constituents oppose this legislation.

        Unfortunately, Dems ignore their constituents at their peril.

        Several incumbents were re-elected because their constituents oppose Slot Barns.

        “Racino” DeLeo bestowed chairmanships based on obedience for those willing to prostitute themselves for additional pay, larger offices and more staff. Few dare risk his wrath.

        And there are a number who have fulfilled their responsibilities and conducted their research to discover the degradation that comes with Slot Barns and are willing to stand for the truth. How rare on Beacon Hill!

        There are also a number who have been personally touched by Gambling Addiction within their families.

        A broad brush doesn’t work in this case.

        • Right, I didn't intend to use a broad brush

          for a lot of the reasons you say. I just thought it was interesting that the “no” votes came from two disparate groups who don’t agree on a whole lot.

      • Bi-Partisan?

        This is the product of what passes for Leadership among Democrats. The only reason it didn’t become law 4 years ago is that the sole Democrat leader who opposed it wasn’t in jail at that point.

        This isn’t a lark, or a momentary lapse. When Patrick was elected in his Obama-esque ‘Yes, We Can!’ first term, it was only months before he announced that the WAY we can was to GAMBLE! He never wavered in his desire to legalize, just disputed the venues.

        Little effort was made to discover alternatives to ‘raising revenue’ (or CUT SPENDING!) other than by gambling. And now, with all three ‘Leaders’ on board, even here on die-hard BMG, the reaction is a shrug and a desire to at least get the maximum amount of milk from the teat since it is now pre-ordained with ALL the Democrats’ power structure on board. When this crashes and burns, the Democrats will own this disgusting debacle.

        As Gladys said, That’s the spirit that made this country great.

        • This is correct


        • Sadly, I agree

          This accurate assessment is just one more reason why I think this is TERRIBLE politics as well as terrible public policy.

          The only edit I might suggest is that, since “Yes, We Can” preceded the Obama campaign by two years, it is more accurate to describe the Obama campaign as “Patrick-esque” than vice-versa.

          But, sadly, the substance of this comment is devastatingly accurate.

        • porcupine, this is the first thing you've posted that I agree with....

          except the Republicans don’t have clean hands either.

          There’s the little pretense of ‘saving racing’ with a Slot Barn.

        • Of course the Democrats will own this

          When describing the Massachusetts House where Democrats have something like a 4 to 1 advantage. the term “bi-partisan,” must import a concept like a handicap in golf in order to be meaningful.

          (My recollection is that the last time that Republican votes actually made a numerical difference was when they were used to put Tom Finneran into the Speakership in 1996. But I may be wrong and count on Porcupine to correct me if I am.)

          I find it interesting that the minority party doubled the number of votes against casinos from 2010 to this year. But I certainly won’t dispute that the raw number of votes involved isn’t very impressive.

          • And there is no way to do a massive number of spinal transplants

            You know – implant the missing back bones.

            Under DiMasi – two to one against casinos.

            Under DeLeo – two to one in favor of casinos. All that changed is “who the Speaker is”. Ergo – back bones are missing in action.

            Remember when Congressman Markey was Representative Markey and he refused to go along to get along and so he was given no office, and had a desk in the hallway? I wish I had a link to the video he made about it “back in the day” – do any of you?

    • Huh?

      This election may have been based on labor v. Tea Party. It may have been based on turnout. Heck, it may have been based on a single politically active family.

      But it was not based on casinos.

      sabutai   @   Sat 24 Sep 10:10 PM
      • Have you spoken to those who voted for Keiko?

        I have friends who are tried-and-true dedicated Democrats who held their nose and voted anti-casino, sabutai.

        And yes, I have friends who voted based on the last name and the town history.

        And there are others who availed themselves of the opportunity to oppose a certain Senator.

        With Beacon Hill mired on corruption, indictments and its failure to act on substantive matters beyond Slot Barns, a ‘Tea Party’ vote maybe not be what it seems, but rather a State House that is sound proofed.

        Republicans included within their Ethics Reform proposal that lobbyists should wear badges.

        They were likened to Nazis in an outrageous overreaction and the bill was buried in committee never to be seen again.

        Anyone who has wasted their time attending the euphemistically named ‘debates’ recognizes the scripted charade.

        And I am the first one to state that there are some impressive, articulate and outspoken lawmakers who conduct their due diligence, work for their constituents and the betterment of the Common Wealth, unfortunately, they’re not mine!

        • Yes I have

          I spoke to people who were holding signs for her several weeks in a row. They wanted lower taxes and less spending. Nobody mentioned gambling to me.

          sabutai   @   Mon 26 Sep 4:29 PM
  10. Bob -- they are different

    Smoking and drinking are governed, at least in part, by physical constraints. A person can’t smoke 4 cartons of cigarettes in a day. Just can’t. A person can’t drink 100 servings of alcohol in a day. Not possible. The body won’t allow it, even if the brain wants to do it.

    Gambling is different. You can gamble until there is nothing left. Nothing. The body can’t overcome the brain with gambling.

    In addition to the physical restriction, there is a time restriction. Even if you want to use drinking and driving as the cause of death [not liver disease], it still takes hours to get drunk, get behind a wheel, and hit somebody. While maybe you were drinking alone, most people don’t drink alone, and the bartender or a friend is likely to try to convince you to do things differently. Smoking doesn’t have an analogue at all. But gambling — go to a casino. Lots of folks are gambling alone next to other people they don’t know. The dealer sure isn’t going to try and talk somebody out of betting above his or her own sensible limits, and it only takes one bet to lose it all.

    I believe that these are two critical differences. Unlike nicotine and alcohol, the body won’t prevent the brain from extreme gambling in a very short time. Secondly, unlike alcohol and nicotine, gamblers don’t tend to have an immediate social structure to talk them out of extremely destructive behavior.

  11. Another promotin...

    ….another preemptive snide comment by the editor. Tactics of somebody not confident of their argument.

    sabutai   @   Sun 25 Sep 10:21 AM
    • REALLY? "Snide"?

      I get that you are unhappy with promoting a comment that opposes legalized gambling.

      I don’t get your characterization of the promotion comment as “snide”.

      The question of whether or not gambling is similar to or different from alcohol and tobacco seems to me to strike at the heart of this debate, and I read the promotion comment as a relatively even-handed way of saying so.

      • What I am unhappy about...

        …is this habit of trying to stomp on arguments by inserting a pre-buttal for the price of promoting a post. Whether I agree with the comment or not, this is something that’s come up before.

        If the editor’s comment is relevant, put it in the comments. But trying to muscle aside somebody’s argument by abusing promotion privileges doesn’t impress, no matter what the issue.

        sabutai   @   Sun 25 Sep 5:24 PM
  12. Gambling is harmful

    There’s really no need for analogies. A casino will bring problems.

    The state is hiding behind revenue and jobs, but don’t forget, the casino lobby has been around for well over 10 years, so all the benefit arguments come from them. The Governor made a point of listing good things the casino would fund — a clear indication he knew it was the wrong thing to do.

    Full disclosure, the jobs argument has worn me down. But I’d like to think something else could be built instead.

    • The jobs that will be created will be low wage jobs, the numbers are overstated.

      From former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger:

      The three states with the highest unemployment rates in the nation are Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island, all home to casinos or racinos. With decreased earnings, fewer gamblers, and limited casino borrowing, layoffs are hitting their casinos.

      The number of jobs the proposed legislation would create has been wildly exaggerated. We are told that two casinos and four racinos will net about 16,000 construction and permanent jobs. But in Indiana it takes 10 riverboats, one casino and two racinos to generate 16,000 current jobs and Louisiana requires 18 casinos to employ 17,268, according to the American Gaming Association.

      The states that most closely mirror the current legislation suggest that the real results will be but a fraction of the job estimates we have been hearing. Michigan’s three casinos net 8,568 permanent jobs and New Mexico’s five racinos employ less than 2,000 people.

  13. It is different, Bob

    My grandmother smoked upwards of 2-3 packs a day in her later years, which was certainly a financial drain and even probably cost her a couple of years (and, more importantly, good health)… but you can’t smoke away a life savings. Gambling can not only do that, but spur others on to embezzle or steal the life savings of other people. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve written on my blog about some union treasurer or employee stealing tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands (in the case of the Mass Teachers Association)… it’s rather sickening.

    Scratch tickets and the daily numbers can’t really do that, either… but slots *can.* There’s lots of very bad things we allow in society because people will turn to other, worse things if we don’t have them. We allow the less bad things to avoid allowing the worst. We allow smoking and decriminalized pot, but we don’t allow crack or heroine.

    Slot machines are similar territory, IMO. You can’t throw away dozens or hundreds of dollars a second, and play for hours straight, at the tracks or even at the local convenience store… but you can at a casino or slot barn.

    There’s a reason why the industry’s term for their ultimate goal is to get people to “play to extinction.” And very few other industries are able to suck away every last dollar a person has — and then some — through developing technology that’s literally addictive and shows up on brain scans the same way a heroine addiction does (per the Harvard scientist who’s been studying it). Slot machines are one of them.

    RyansTake   @   Mon 26 Sep 12:35 AM
  14. Largely ignored....

    this was posted in response to the misleading comments posted that compare alcohol with Gambling:

    Casino gambling and drinking alcohol ARE fundamentally different

« Blue Mass Group Front Page

Add Your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Fri 28 Apr 3:55 PM