Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Clock ticks on gambling bill

It's been two weeks since members of a House/Senate conference committee first sat down to create a compromise bill that would expand gambling in Massachusetts, but -- with just 10 days remaining in the legislative session -- there is no indication that the two sides have been able to reach a consensus. As I understand it, failure to get a bill approved by both bodies on the governor's desk by July 31 means that the process would have to start from scratch when the legislature convenes again in the fall.

To give the process a bump forward, a dozen small-city mayors backed House Speaker Bob DeLeo's plan for for slots at tracks in a letter yesterday. Their motivation is some quick cash to close municipal budget shortfalls. However, mayors of the state's larger cities, including Boston's Tom Menino, are not on board with the request. The Globe story says that one sticking point for Menino is that he wants Boston cops in charge of law enforcement at any casino within city limits, while DeLeo's bill calls for the state police to have jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that New Jersey's governor is proposing that a state authority "take over the troubled Atlantic City gambling district." Yeah, that sounds like something we want to invite into our own backyard.

Image from Internet blog


Pokerfiend said...

You'd think with the economy in the tank, these bills would be a sure thing.

Neighbor said...

WBZ Radio's Dan Rea (1030 AM) will host another debate on expanded gambling tonight, Wednesday July 21st at 9:00 PM. Psychologist and United to Stop Slots board member, Tom Larkin will debate Salem Mayor Kimberly Driscoll, a staunch advocate of the pending casino legislation.

The people's business has taken a back seat to the casinos' business as the clock runs out on the current legislative session. Join the Neighbors of Suffolk Downs in the discussion on this hot topic as the conference committee tries to hammer out a compromise and casino opponents work towards a stalemate.

Neighbor said...

If you think the Mass. economy is bad now, wait till they legalize gambling. Many states with legalized casino gambling are far worse off than we are, suffering higher deficits: MA - 8.5%, NV - 56%, IL - 36%, NJ - 37%, CT - 29%, MN - 26% and AZ - 35%
higher unemployment: MA - 8.9%, NV - 14%, IL - 10.8% and AZ 9.6%
and foreclosure rates(% of households): MA - 0.66%, NV - 1.25%, IL - 1.25%, NJ 0.9%, CT - 0.83% and AZ - 1.5%.

If you'll notice Nevada, the state whose economy relies most heavily on casino gambling and where it has been legal the longest (1931) ranks first in the nation in all of these categories...

We'll be in real trouble once they build casinos here.

John Q. Public said...


Sure, statistics are impressive when you skew them to your argument. It only makes your case that much weaker however when you omit other objective factors that may explain the reality behind such claims.

Once again, before we make outlandish statements (See previous posts related to auto insurance rates under "Forum Feedback"), we should really be comparing apples to apples.

"We'll be in trouble once they build casinos here" you say.

Just to be clear, are you saying that once Mass legalizes gaming that we will be just like Nevada (i.e. a "state whose economy relies most heavily on casino gambling")? Wouldn't Connecticut by a more relevant example? (i.e. 2 casinos, Northeast region, etc.)

Also, can you tell me, does Nevada have a state income tax for its residents like Massachusetts does? As to the foreclosure rate, can you tell me whether the rate of home purchases and mortgages written in Nevada was the same as that of Massachusetts during the same period? (Hint: Nevada and specifically Las Vegas were the fastest growing markets with housing starts and population growth just before the market collapsed)

Since you did not mention it, do you realize that the rate of unemployment in New Jersey and Connecticut has increased just 0.2% and 0.4% respectively since 2009 while Massachusetts has increased 0.5% during the same period? (See

Do those two states not already have casinos? I'm curious as to why you left those two very relevant stats out of your comment?

Moreover, Connecticut has had a lower rate of unemployment than Massachusetts historically. Will bringing casinos to Massachusetts change that? Probably not - but it doesn't explain your suggestion that we will all be in trouble if we go get Casinos here.

As you can see, just trying to keep it fair and objective.

Matthew said...

John Q: You are also taking stats out of context, but your point is well taken - there are many other variables in play when comparing foreclosure, unemployment, and auto insurance rates other than “casino” vs. “non-casino” inputs. Step away from the stats for a second – do you believe that there is any correlation to casinos and crime and addiction? I personally believe that this link is pretty well established; even the proponents at the Suffolk Downs casino debate acknowledged the relationship. So while we can argue about whether our auto insurance rates will increase, or whether property values will fall, isn’t it far more important to recognize that traffic, pollution, and crime in East Boston will increase with a casino in the neighborhood? If you’ll concede this point, isn’t that enough to warrant additional studies for our elected officials to consider, if not outright opposition to a casino?

Neighbor said...

Statistics will fall on both sides of the argument. That doesn't make them irrelavent, what is important is that they be considered and they haven't been.

There are many factors that haven't been addressed by any of the pro-casino legislators. They only want us to hear their side of the argument. There will be jobs of course but is all commerce good commerce? Should we chase all types of commercial endeavor in order to increase economic activity?

The National Gambling Impact Study had one ultimate recommendation: to "pause" and complete an independent cost benefit analysis. Massachusetts hasn't done that. Despite all of the time and money that has been spent none of the studies completed here in Mass. have been independent. The Jobs and Growth Today website cites many studies, all of which were paid for by the casino lobby including those conducted by Clyde Barrow of Umass Dartmouth. None address the attendant increase in crime and the impact on local businesses.

New Hampshire did complete such a study and it is rife with warnings and caveats. Massachusetts is entering this partnership with casinos blindly. Does the part-time legislature in New Hampshire know something that ours doesn't?
When I started this I was concerned about traffic clogging our streets. Traffic will be the least of our concerns.

I would rather build this:
Research Triangle Park, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
not this:
Atlantic City
or this:
Seneca Casino in Niagara Falls

Neighbor said...

What if we here this from Carlo Basile or Anthony Petruccelli 15 years from now:
"There has been no economic development spin-off from the casino. Businesses do not come here...Tourists come mainly to gamble. Gamblers have one thing in mind: get to the casino, win or lose their money, get in their cars, and go home." -- Mayor, Wesley Johnson of Ledyard, CT.

For every dollar of lottery sales that is lost to slots, the state will lose 18 cents? The Lottery returns 21 cents per dollar (still 50% below the national average) and the slots will return 25% of a profit of 10-15% on every dollar or 3 cents. How does one then make the claim that there will be an increase in local aid?

Some llike to suggest that there will be an increase in tourism. More people visit Faneuil Hall every year than Disney World. The tourists won't come to Boston for the casinos... but the casinos are coming here for the tourists.

The Boston Chamber of Commerce commissioned a report that did give cursory treatment to the issue of crime. It found that most of the studies available showed a marked increase in crime after a casino was developed? None showed a decrease. This tells me that if a casino is built at Suffolk Downs, we in East Boston, Revere and Chelsea have come as far as we can in terms of quality of life and we will be lucky if things don't get worse. I for one am no longer willing to sit idly by and accept this as our fate. I've waited far too long for the unfulfilled promises of our elected officials to come to pass.

I want our elected officials who are supposed to be looking out for our best interests to tell me exactly how they plan to mitigate the negative impact that will come along with the casino or even worse racino. They can't because they haven't done the homework and they won't even address the negatives.

John Ribeiro

Everyone knows who I am but Mr. Public chooses to remain anonymous. Interesting.

John Q. Public said...


Your choice to identify yourself is your prerogative. But last I checked Jimbo does not require that anyone use their identity when looking to participate in a civil exchange of ideas on this blog and there are plenty of people involved in this discussion and others that chose not to identify themselves. In fact, blogging is often an anonymous activity which people chose to engage in for many reasons. So let's not make it personal my friend. The revelation of your identity and my anonymity do nothing to strenthgthen or weaken our respective positions. There are no bonus points for saying who you really are in the blog world. So probably better if we just stick to the issues. Ok?