So, we’re stuck at this point – without enough information to make rational decisions about our state. There’s no undoing casinos, once they’re here, so it would be nice to know a little bit more before taking this plunge – down the rabbit hole, it seems. I’ve suggested stopping where we are now so we can have an adult conversation all along, to figure out what casinos will mean for Massachusetts as well as look at the greater, systemic problems our state faces (which some neanderthals have been trying to suggest casino revenue could fix, though it wouldn’t even come close). If these parties who claim to only be concerned about revenue really cared, why not face the far greater threats to this state – such as unsustainably expensive health care and what those expenses are doing to our cities and towns every day (making them go bankrupt, forcing school closures)?
It seems like because there isn’t sufficient knowledge on either side to claim casinos are either the end of civilization or a panacea for all, too many of us are rushing to find our shovels and start digging. What we’ll be digging, as I’ve been saying over and over again, who knows. Will it be our jackpot or our graves? And to what extent would either of those extremes be true? There’s just not enough information.
Too many of us are refusing to engage in what should be the real question – the real point of any study Massachusetts could be commissioning right now: not whether or not casinos are either the end of times or the next coming of Baby Jesus, but whether or not casinos would be good or bad policy for Massachusetts. That’s what it’s all about – not the extremes, but whether or not it makes plain old fiscal and community sense.
So, instead of writing another post that recycles all of the solid numbers we do have, I figured I’d take a different tact to further our conversation. There are a few things that we know about casinos with great precision. Among them – and particularly relevant here – is what they look like and how they operate. Everything about them is designed to keep people inside and away from their competition – which I’ll define as thus: pretty much anything else. After all, not only do casinos have things that no other businesses have (free booze and legalized slot machines), but they also have more stores than your local mall, nicer stores than your local mall, more malls than your local mall, as well as Broadway-caliber shows, HBO-worthy sporting events, bars, clubs and a $5 Prime Rib. Free baby sitting? Who knows. The only real competition to casinos are other casinos, of which there will be plenty if Governor Patrick and several tribes get their way, but that’s only because no other businesses can compete with the resort-casino model. So maybe, by looking at a casino in this kind of light, people will be able to get a better feel for what I’m writing about.
Come Sunday, while everyone’s holed up in their homes from the latest barrage of snow, I’ll post a far-more-fun and funny blog, examining casinos from one vantage point few of us have been looking at during this entire debate: the very insides of casinos and how they’re designed to make sure all sorts of people have one thing in common: a willingness to spend their very last dimes inside the casino as opposed to any other area, or sector of the economy, possible. I don’t think it, from there, to be a very big leap for people to understand the true economic impacts of the many casinos Governor Patrick is working so hard to bring to this state.