Thursday, May 24, 2007

Treasurer Cahill, Casinos and Idiocy

Cahill wants to beat Native Americans to the punch on casinos in Massachusetts - apparently, the state will get ever so much more money with a casino they can fully tax, unlike a casino built by Native Americans.
Cahill has long expressed concern that an Indian-run casino would drain money from the state lottery, while providing the state only a limited amount of revenue, subject to negotiations with the tribe. By orchestrating its own deal to establish a casino in Massachusetts, Cahill will argue today, the state would gain far more from gambling than Connecticut has from its two Indian casinos.
What a great idea! /sarcasm off

Apparently, Cahill never investigated the potential to, oh, I don't know... fucking stop the construction of a mega casino. It's not as if the state has no leverage, either.
The Mashpee Wampanoags, who today are celebrating their official recognition by the federal government, have announced plans to open a casino by 2010, but must first go through the time-consuming process of putting land into federal trust. The tribe must also negotiate a compact with the state, which would allow the tribe to open a casino with a level of gambling not now permitted elsewhere in Massachusetts. In other states, tribes have often agreed to pay a certain percentage of revenues in lieu of taxes.
Woot! Three possible ways to block this.

1. We lobby the federal government to either not put the land in federal trust or make a deal on just what could be built on that land.

2. Say "no thanks" in any negotiations with the Mashpee tribe. If they want to build a gambling enterprise, they can build one of the sort we already allow on this state.

3. Alternatively, we can say "let's compromise" and allow them to build a casino - but one that actually works in Massachusetts.

To say the least, the ideas of casinos in Massachusetts doesn't thrill me. However, I'm not inherently opposed to building some sort of casino in Massachusetts, but it can't be of the type Cahill wants.
Under Cahill's plan, which would have to be approved and implemented by the Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick, the state would issue a request for proposals for one or more casinos that would offer such amenities as five-star hotels, gourmet restaurants, shopping, and event pavilions.
Great, let's build a huge fucking, massively massive structure - so one company gets all of the benefits and potential small business owners in the area get the shaft. Put one of those things near any brink city and whatever progress that's been made over the past 10 years will instantly go away. A casino won't help any economy if it gives no reason for people to participate in it.

If we want to allow casinos, we need to make them work for local economies. That means people who are coming from all around the state to go to these casinos should have a reason to leave those casinos for most of their entertainment, food and other needs. Imagine a casino in New Bedford - let's say we allow them a modestly sized hotel. That means others would want to build hotels in the area, too. That means lots of local restaurants would start up and thrive, catching a lot of the new tourists. It means that museums, galleries and theatres could pop up - and the ones already there could become even better. It means all sorts of shopping could be created to attract any costumer, from luxury stores to stores for different crowds. Such a project could really put a brink city on the map, giving people a reason to visit them. I use New Bedford as an example because there are already a lot of reasons to go there, it just needs the type of attraction to get people to realize that - it needs something to push people through the door.

With lots of things to do in Massachusetts's brink cities, even people who don't gamble would want to come and visit. Of course, we already know that happens - as is - in today's mega casinos. Just a few months ago my step mother, who never gambles, went to Connecticut for a weekend at Foxwoods. She went with an old friend to catch up, see a cool singer and do some shopping. Sadly, for Connecticut's small business owners and economy, all her money went to one casino - it wasn't spread out to everyone else. Do we want that in Massachusetts? I say no.

If people want casinos in Massachusetts, fine. However, instead of building mega-resorts, let's build something that won't kill local economies. Let's build something that will enhance what we already have and create far more. In other words, let's be smart about it. However, it's going to take political leadership on this issue that clearly Treasurer Cahill doesn't have. Let's hope a certain Governor does get it.


David said...

I think a mega-casino would stagnate the area -if for New Bedford could stagnate much more- by keeping local workers in a low level-low pay jobs. I imagine a scenario where entrepreneurs could move in and create a very unique environment conducive to small business. I think most would agree that a local mom and pop sub shop is better than the crap subway puts out; following the same idea, I believe small business would be far more effective in generating more money and more business. All of this would be good for the state, with them making money off of the casino itself, taxes from the small businesses, and I think greatest of all, the rejuvination of a city. Money, used correctly, grows more money, and with more money being spread throughout the city everyone benefits.

Ryan Adams said...

nice comment, dave. Now you just need to blog about stuff like this! lol

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