I am running for Governor because sound government needs to rest on a foundation of economic and social justice. With that in mind, I am supporting the ballot initiative now proposed to repeal the casino law.
I don’t believe that we should be teaching our children that economic development is best achieved through gambling institutions. Instead, we should invest in helping our communities develop and thrive, making Massachusetts a more attractive place to do business, and training our workers for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century.
I am well aware of the dire need in Massachusetts to expand job opportunities throughout the state and of the hope in some quarters that casinos will bring both employment and new revenues to our strapped state budget. Nonetheless, I believe, the costs are simply too high for this to be the best step for our state.
My chief concerns:
- The evidence is strong that they will do harm to many small businesses and distort the life of local neighborhoods. Studies have shown that casinos divert funds from local businesses, with an average of one local job lost per slot machine.
- Casinos will bring into Massachusetts enormous outside corporate forces – some, frankly, with questionable ethics – that have little real commitment to the long-term well-being of our state and communities.
- The net new revenues to the state budget will be less than hoped, because there is going to be a tradeoff between casino incomes and the state lottery, which compete for some of the same consumer dollars. Some say that lottery income may fall by as much as 30% or 40, offsetting some casino revenue to the state.
- And, as a physician, I know that casinos will bring with them (or uncover) a disease – gambling addiction – that hurts the addict, the family, and the community. At just the time when we are trying to bring our state’s health care costs under control, we will be adding a whole new cost burden for public health, mental health care, and addiction treatment.
I am supporting the repeal effort, because I believe the 2011 casino law is inconsistent with our shared values of economic and social justice. Our Commonwealth can do better.