Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Abandon your money -- and your kids

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen does a good job raising only some of the pertinent issues in the legislature's rush to permanently change the culture and quality of life in this state by introducing expanded gambling. The first part of his piece today describes the machinations involved in arranging a local referendum on a proposed casino, but take a look at the last half of his column:

In the same week Massachusetts state troopers buried one of their own, a father of four run down by an accused drunk driver while he was questioning another accused drunk driver, the Massachusetts Senate voted to let casinos serve free booze to their customers.

What do you call a state that endorses the concept of getting its citizens liquored up and taking their money in a game of chance that’s stacked against them?

“Nuts,’’ said Susan Tucker, a Democrat from Andover, and one of a minority of senators who thinks this is madness.

“We outlawed happy hours in this state because we had statistical evidence that they increased the number of fatalities and serious injuries,’’ she said. “And now we’re saying it’s OK for casinos to have an open bar? We’re overturning our public safety laws for a predatory industry.’’

Welcome to Mississippi-on-the-Charles, where anything goes, as long as it convinces some corporation that it’ll be able to maximize its ability to fleece people. We are so desperate for jobs, so desperate for tax revenue, that we will sell our collective souls, and then redefine what constitutes those souls.

To be fair, the Senate is asking the casinos to step up to the plate on at least one thing: The bill would require casinos to check their parking lots regularly for abandoned children and animals.

“Maybe it’s me,’’ Susan Tucker said, “but if we believe there are going to be children and pets abandoned because of this industry, should we be facilitating them? I don’t remember ever requiring a biotech company to check its parking lots for abandoned children.’’

Meanwhile, a few elected officials and a representative from Suffolk Downs have been added to the program of Wednesday night's "Forum on Casino Gambling," which will be held at Don Orione starting at 6:30 p.m. This move, I think, is a terrible idea. The politicians' opinions are always broadcast through the media, and as for Suffolk COO Chip Tuttle -- well, we get to see the East Boston Times play footsie with him every week.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Jim, thought you and your readers might be interested in the following:

Gambling and Crime

Polls show that most Americans assume an association between gambling and increased criminal activity. The gambling industry offers hearty denials and various statistical manipulations attempting to counter this perception. Data from gambling communities across the country, however, indicates that gambling does indeed foster a significant increase in crime.

In the first six years of casinos in Minnesota, the crime rate in counties with casinos increased more than twice as fast as in non-casino counties. According to an analysis by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the median crime rate in casino counties rose 39 percent during that period as compared to an 18 percent increase in non-casino counties.

The total number of crimes within a 30-mile radius of Atlantic City increased by 107 percent in the nine years following the introduction of casinos to Atlantic City.

According to a study by Earl Grinols, a city can expect its crime rate to increase by about 8 percent after four or five years of introducing casinos.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast experienced a 43 percent increase in crime in the four years after casinos arrived. Harrison County, where most of the Gulf Coast casinos are located, witnessed a 58 percent increase in total crimes between 1993 and 1996.

A U.S. News & World Report analysis found crime rates in casino communities to be 84 percent higher than the national average. Further, while crime rates nationally dropped by 2 percent in 1994, the 31 localities that introduced casinos in 1993 saw an increase in crime of 7.7 percent the following year.

The number of court cases filed in Tunica County, Mississippi, went from 689 in 1991, the year before casinos began operating there, to 11,100 in 1996.

The annual number of calls to the Ledyard, Connecticut police department jumped from 4,000 to 16,700 within five years after the opening of the nearby Foxwoods Casino.

University of Illinois professor, John Kindt, reported that 1.5 million people or 0.5 percent of the U.S. population became new criminals from 1994 to 1997 as a direct correlation to states' government-sponsored legalized gambling. The cost for this rise in crime ranged from $12 billion to $15 billion.

University of Nevada-Las Vegas researchers concluded that the state of Wisconsin experiences an average of 5,300 additional major crimes a year due to the presence of casinos in that state. They also attributed an additional 17,100 arrests for less-serious crimes each year to the existence of casino gambling.

Nevada ranked first in crime rates among the fifty states in both 1995 and 1996, based on an analysis of FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics. Further, the violent crime rate in Nevada increased by close to 40 percent from 1991 to 1996, a period in which the national violent crime rate dropped by approximately 10 percent.

The San Jose, California, police department reported significant increases in crime in the vicinity of a new cardroom in the year after its opening. Narcotics offenses increased by 200 percent, property crimes by 83 percent, petty thefts by 56 percent, auto thefts by 21 percent, and traffic accidents by 55 percent in a single year.

The number of police calls in Black Hawk, Colorado, increased from 25 a year before casinos to between 15,000 and 20,000 annually after their introduction. In neighboring Central City, the number of arrests increased by 275 percent the year after casinos arrived. In Cripple Creek, Colorado, serious crime increased by 287 percent in the first three years after casinos.

The annual number of felony cases filed in Lawrence County, South Dakota, has increased by approximately 69 percent since the introduction of casinos to Deadwood.

Half of Louisiana District Attorneys surveyed in 1995 noted gambling as a factor in rising crime rates in their jurisdictions.

(Post too long to include sources and footnotes)