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
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.