Friday, December 14, 2007

Let's Chat Casinos

I wrote the first part of a serious conversation about casinos over at BlueMassGroup. Mainly, a lot of people over there keep asking me for all these additional numbers on why casinos are bad for Massachusetts. Sadly, not only are there not a whole ton of numbers either way, but people tend to forget about the flip side of their question: where's all the numbers behind why casinos are so great for Massachusetts? The only thing casino-supporters have come up with yet was a deeply flawed UMASS Dartmouth study, done by someone with myriad casino connections in the past. All of Governor Patrick's numbers (and, indeed, his plan) are predicated on that deeply flawed study.

Yet, people buy it. They've been told all along, by casino developers or their pets friends, that casinos are fantastic and will raise so much money that they can fix property taxes and pay for all the state's roads and bridges. Quite frankly, I wouldn't be shocked if people thought casinos were as harmless to the economy and communities as a little church bingo fundraiser. These people are manipulated over and over and over again, by a rich and extensive lobbying effort - one that's been all too savvy working with the media.

I would think that the onus would be on casinos to prove why Massachusetts should risk its economy for revenue that may or may not be new, but instead of being a smarty-pants, I just want to have a conversation. It's time for a little leadership on this issue over at Beacon Hill, or any number of our colleges and universities, or the forth estate, but such leadership has been few and far between. Not a single group, state agency or organization has stepped up and been willing to closely examine the many changes casinos will mean for Massachusetts. Not a single thorough, reputable study has been commissioned.

Sadly, I can't be the one to do it. It would cost millions and take months. However, I can try to explain my main points - that casinos will have a negative impact on both the economy and communities - in ways that can make sense to more and more people. That's what Part 2 will be doing on Sunday! Check it out over at BlueMassGroup.

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