Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oh, Yea, Trust This Man on Casinos!

Clyde Barrow: Professor of "I Love Casinos 101" at UMASS Dartmouth.

Thanks to a great blog from David, I found an even more important article from the Weekly Dig: "The argument for casinos ain't nothing but a mathquerade," the subtitle says. And you know what? It's true. The article - and David's blog - focuses on a man I've written about on several occasions, Clyde Barrow, a Professor from UMASS Dartmouth. He's the man, as David, the Weekly Dig and my last link points out, who's largely behind Patrick's casino plan. Just how close are Barrow and Patrick's plans? Here's the Dig:

Barrow's blueprint called for "three commercial resort casinos," to be situated in Suffolk Downs, southeastern Massachusetts and western Massachusetts. It promised that, collectively, the casinos would generate $1.5 billion in revenue and create 20,000 jobs. It recommended a 27 percent tax rate on gaming revenue, which would generate "over $400 million" in revenue for the state, half of which would be spent on local aid. It suggested that the state charge $600 million in casino licensing fees every 10 years. It also recommended that the casinos allocate 2 percent of their gross revenues to offset the costs of communities near the new casinos....

Patrick... deliver[ed] a gambling plan remarkably similar to Barrow's proposal: He recommended three casinos taxed at 27 percent, and said the state would reap $400 million in new tax revenues, $600 million in 10-year licensing fees, 20,000 jobs and a 2.5 percent allocation of gross funds to local communities.

Even more shocking is the fact that Patrick's staff put warning labels all over Barrow's casino report, which offered many of the suggestions Patrick went with. The staff's warning?

"As most of you know, the work of Professor Barrow and The Center for Policy Analysis at UMass Dartmouth is not without some controversy, and many opponents of expanded gaming question the rigor of the economic analysis and the independence of the organization given its pro-gaming recommendations. All that being said, we wanted to circulate the report for your convenience since some of you have seen mention of it in the news and had asked for a copy."
Shouldn't we trust that guy? Shouldn't we trust someone who's resume includes, according to the Weekly Dig, working for the Aquinnah Wampanoags Tribe of Gay Head? If that isn't enough, he was also commissioned by a group that wanted to build a $300 million dollar casino in Salisbury. Shockingly, though, not even some pro-casino people trust Barrow's methodology. As the Dig reports, the chairman of the Aquinnah Wampanoags at Gay Head, said Barrow's methodology is "long on assumptions that weren't really articulated." Ouch. Here's an important note to everyone: just because he works for UMASS Dartmouth, doesn't mean he's an honest broker of information. As much as I love my Alma Mater, that school (and region) is teaming with people who crave a South Coast casino and will do anything to get it. Barrow's just a convenient source to help their effort.

Unfortunately, help their effort, he has. Somehow, he's hoodwinked Governor Patrick - I wonder if our Governor knows about all of Clyde's past connections to casinos? (I bet by the end of the day, he will.) He's one of the media's go-to guys for pro-casino quotes, hiding behind his University position to make it sound as if he's a completely neutral figure in this debate. Um, no. Furthermore, his papers not only include dubious forms of data collection, but in their general praise of casinos, they ignore things like income redistribution, economic impact of addiction and the effects casinos have on local economies. How else could they so glowingly endorse casinos in Massachusetts? (They couldn't.)

Finally, to show how important this guy really is to the pro-casino forces, a lot of these pro-casino numbers people keep throwing around come directly from Clyde Barrow. Barrow's continued to claim that Bay Staters spend 1.1 billion a year in Connecticut's casinos. Scary that we're losing so much money? Well, only in the way that "Scary Movie" is after people read how he came up with those numbers. That movie became a major comedy satire hit - and so has, apparently, Dr. Clyde Barrow.

What he calls "patron origin analysis," I call "counting license plates." He's gone to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, counted the license plates in their lots and used that to determine how much Massachusetts citizens were spending in Connecticut. That's the source, as the Weekly Dig points out, of his 1.1 billion dollar figure. Because there are no local senior citizen groups that regularly take busses to Foxwoods, ever. And there's no way that local residents, who are twice as likely to be addicted (and addicts/frequent regulars account for 20% of a casino's profits), would ever screw skew the data.

David over at BMG, who's supported casinos all along, now seems like a skeptic.
Ugh. If totting up the number of out-of-state license plates at Foxwoods is really the only basis for estimates of how much money we're sending to Connecticut each year, then this is my stop -- I'm off the train.

Well, Mr. Kravitz, we're glad to have you. David went on to criticize Patrick's administration for not doing their homeworking on verifying the information they've completely trusted. They've done little to validate Barrow and others in their quest to see if casinos are right for Massachusetts. David is right - the Patrick administration's efforts aren't "good enough." In fact, the their efforts are downright bad. I'd blockquote the Dig more, but I've already reached my legal limit (3 paragraphs). Suffice it to say, the Patrick administration did no original investigation of its own - instead, they relied on the research of others. According to the Dig, they did "little to distinguish dubious casino-funded studies from other, more authoritative sources," which allowed Governor Patrick, "to ignore anything he didn't want to know."

That's not the Governor I worked so hard to elect. Casinos will change the Bay State forever. The administration owes it to the people of Massachusetts to do a comprehensive review that includes, for instance, a real price check on just what we're getting. The Dig's made it abundantly clear that review hasn't happened in any way, shape or form. This is truly the first real, major mistake of the Patrick Administration. Let's hope it's his last - and he changes course quick to correct it.


Mass Marrier said...

Did you catch the live call-in on BUR yesterday, where on Deval spent most of the time defending his proposal...very well, I might say?

A big marketing message will apparently be that this is not his number one priority, just another industry he intends to attract or help start in Massachusetts.


Ryan Adams said...

I see slow moves to distance himself. Big Globe story about how, oh no, he didn't mean a casino in Boston or NB. Now, apparently, casinos really aren't a big priority.

I'm thinking he's sensing that this could have been a tiny mistake on his part. Whoops.

It's really only served to be a distraction for all the more important issues going on, IMHO. We could have been focusing on hitting DiMasi on the Muni Act.

If Deval's smart, he'll pivot and send in a "leak" from "anonymous sources" in his administration claiming that Deval only decided to tackle this because DiMasi put him in the funding hole by refusing to back sensible corporate tax loophole cuts. That would be a helluva way to get back on track.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ryan,

I too am a student at Umass Dartmouth, but unlike you, I have actually taken classes with Dr. Barrow. While you criticize Dr. Barrow's research on casino gambling, I have found that his classes are balanced, informative, and challenging to students. I also find that he presents the pros and cons on every issue that we discuss in class and allows students to draw their own conclusions about an issue. Thus, your personal animosity towards an individual that you have evidently never met is quite puzzling and, frankly, a bit disturbing. As you note in your blog, you animus seems to be fueled by a former faculty member, Mr. John Carroll, who as I hear it, was forced into retirement due to "fraudulent
irregularities" in his behavior (more on that when and if you respond).

However, given my own experience, I’d like to know whether you have ever taken a class with Dr. Barrow? Have you interviewed him? Have you met with him to discuss his research directly? Have you read any of his many books or articles? Have you actually read any of his studies on casino gambling? Have you ever sent your blog to him or invited him to respond to your criticisms? I doubt it. I also doubt that you even have the intellectual courage to discuss anything about the casino industry with Dr. Barrow or any other individual with recognized expertise on the subject.

Consequently, I would note that you are quite wrong in claiming that Dr. Barrow's research is based only on “license plate counts,” although these counts are a widely accepted research methodology and are widely cited in
the expert academic literature (but you wouldn't know that, because you haven't even finished your bachelor's degree!). If you knew anything about patron origin analysis, and had actually read the other reports cited in Dr. Barrow's research, you would know that patron origin analysis is used extensively in travel and tourism studies and that Barrow’s
methodology has been peer reviewed by national experts and published in the Journal of Travel Research. On the other hand, have any of your 'blog ravings/methodologies' been published in a leading academic journal or been peer reviewed by national experts?

Let me add that if you would take the time to actually read Dr. Barrow's research reports on casino gaming, you would know that his findings are confirmed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, research by Harvard economists, and regional economists at the University of Connecticut. Have
any of your blog entries been confirmed by comparable scholars?

I have news for you; a blog rant and scholarly research are not the same thing, Ryan.

Let's also note that Dr. Barrow has published several books with reputable scholarly presses and he has published numerous peer reviewed articles in leading journals of economics, political science, public policy, labor
studies, and sociology. In fact, as I count it, (based on his publicly available curriculum vita), Dr. Barrow has individually published more articles and books than the entire UMass Dartmouth political science faculty combined! Wow...some education you are getting in that department Ryan!

Let's continue...Dr. Barrow received his Ph.D. from one of the top ten ranked doctoral programs (UCLA) in the United States. On the other hand, you haven’t even finished your undergraduate degree, but you claim to be
an expert on research methodology? Really? How many books have you published? How many articles have you published in peer reviewed scholarly journals? Aside from your little blog, have you published anything Ryan?

Furthermore, if you would actually read Dr. Barrow's reports on casino gaming, you would learn that he had conducted random sample behavioral telephone surveys and examined numerous sources of other data – U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, RI Lottery, CT Division of Special Revenue, New Jersey Casino Control Commission, and more – to arrive at his findings. Ryan, have you ever looked at these data sources?

Ryan, it seems to me that you just aren’t informed on the casino issue, but you do seem to be waging a personal jihad with an individual you’ve never met or
read. Is that sane? Why don't you read up on who you're bashing before jumping to conclusions, that is, if they are your conclusions anyway.

Ryan Adams said...

Mr. Anonymous.

Feel free to drop the ad hominom and actually address the points I raised in the blog.

Is Deval Patrick's proposal basically his proposal?

Does Clyde Barrow have deep connections to the casino industry?

The answer to both those questions is a definitive yes.

I am not and do not claim to be an academic. However, academics are supposed to be neutral sources, of which Clyde Barrow clearly is not. I'm not waging a "personal jihad" on the Professor, but I *am* pointing some facts that 99% of this state probably doesn't know. Barrow is an exceptionally important man in the entire casino debate; people ought to know about his connections and his dubious research methodology of counting cars as a means to predict casino revenue (don't take my word for it, follow the links and get the real experts' opinions).

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