The East Boston Chamber of Commerce generated a "Breaking News" headline yesterday on the Boston Herald's web site when the group released a letter announcing that it "strongly supports expanded gaming at Suffolk Downs."
The rationale, according to the letter, is the job creation and the "ancillary economic benefits for East Boston businesses" generated by a local casino. Also, that a casino "would produce up to $500 million in annual revenue for the state," that Suffolk Downs has "expanded its community outreach and philanthropic efforts over the last few years," and that track owner Richard Fields has pledged to "buy goods and services locally."
It seems to me that the expected benefits will be outweighed by the negative consequences of situating such an operation so close to an urban residential neighborhood; that the state revenue number quoted is almost certainly overblown; that Suffolk's recent philanthropy is clearly part of a strategy to enlist local support (Why not spend thousands in order to make millions?); and that Fields' "pledge" will likely be discarded the first time he can save a penny per item on something that he needs in quantity.
I would hope that the Chamber isn't solely motivated by the fact that there is money to be made here. I would have expected that any support on this issue by a local civic organization would be tempered by a few words saying, "There may be some negative effects and we hope that these measures are in place to counteract them." The Chamber's letter, however, says in essence, "Full steam ahead!" One can't help but feel that people in and out of the state see a money spigot about to turn on and they're all lining up with cups in hand.