Monday, June 23, 2008

The Casino Job Mythos

One of the biggest reasons some people claim to support casinos is for the jobs. It's one of the age-old arguments - that casinos create jobs time infinity, all of which provide decent benefits. Of course, it's another age-old phenomenon that the pro-casino lobby usually lies, distorts and cheats it's way to their much ballyhooed numbers. Anyone remember those 25,000 construction jobs? Yeah, right.

Well, as the casino debate in Massachusetts shifts to Racinos this summer, it's important for everyone, including Beacon Hill, to note that the Racino Lobby is as gifted with their math as the Casino Lobby - 25,000 construction jobs being only the most laughable example. Need a refresher? Let's take a look at what George Carney, owner of the Raynham tracks, has said in the past:

Falsehood #1

"I'm sticking with 650 [jobs]."

George Carney continuously claims to employ 650 people at the Raynham Racetrack. Of course, according to the Census, the actual number is less than 250 - including part timers. Specifically, between 100 and 249. Oops.

How gross is that lie? Well, if you combine all the race tracks in this state - dog, horse, car, whatever - there's 707 employees, according to the Massachusetts Department of Labor. So, George Carney claims to employ almost as many racing-related jobs as the entire industry of Massachusetts. George, we know you're big, but not that big!

What tangled webs we weave. Let's pretend George is right - he has 650 employees. George also released documents that give definitive labor costs for the Raynham Track. Here's George's labor costs over a 9 month period in '06:
Taunton Dog Track, Inc. – “casual labor” $8,800
Taunton Dog Track, Inc. – “salaries and wages” $544,500
Massasoit Greyhound Association – “contract labor expense” $1,980,092
Massasoit Greyhound Association – “salaries and wages” $2,622,384
Total: $5,155,776
So, if George's claims are right and he truly employs 650 people, there's some very simple math to do. 650/5,155,776 = $7,931. Either George is paying his 650 minimum wage or less (and he claims his jobs are good jobs), or he's completely full of himself. Even George knows his math is as fuzzy as a pair of over-used tennis balls.

Now, if George really employs ~200 people, that number is a more reasonable $25,779. Sound about right?

Falsehood #2

"If the ban on dog racing wins approval... it could eliminate 6,000 to 8,000 jobs at the two tracks."

Right off the bat, we've deduced that Carney employs between 100 and 249 employees at Raynham. Let's be generous and round up to 250. If that's the case, the other park in question, Wonderland Racetrack, would have to employ between 5,750 to 7,750 jobs. Of course, according to Census numbers, that's laughable. Note to George: they couldn't fit that many cars in the Wonderland Parking Lot.

In 2002, Wonderland employed between 250 and 499 full time and part time employees. Of course, there's probably even less now, given recent trends at Race Tracks in Massachusetts and across the country. In fact, Wonderland even threatened that if it doesn't get its way with Racinos, it'll shut up shop and close for good. Good riddance. With hundreds of millions being invested just across the street on the beach, as well as a T station even closer, there's limitless possibilities for those acres to be used, which could bring more and better jobs for the area - industries that aren't so prone to lie, distort and cheat about their numbers.


Lynne said...

I bet I know where he gets his number! This just occurred to me.

I wonder if he's counting turnover? So, 250 actual jobs, but 600 people worked for him in one year, because there was an average of 2.4 worker turnover events per job over the course of the year.

So he looks at his employee records and says, "there's 600 people on this list" when really, he's counting jobs 2-3 times, given that 2-3 different people on average have held that one job that year.

What do you think? Could I be on to something?

If that so, it's not only that 600 jobs is a lie, but one of those "damned" lies...or worse. A statistic.

Ryan Adams said...

I wouldn't be surprised. Although, the 6k-8k number is purely out of his arse.

Anonymous said...

Of course you would lose the jobs associated with the concessions and such. The people who deliver food, heating oil etc. to the racetrack. If the business dies a natural death fine, if it tries to survive help it along. The cops would probably lose their "paid" details there too.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, good job presenting the facts, but more worrisome is the focus on this single small industry that employs few people. They're not jobs to aspire to, but unskilled jobs, good for the short term. Instead, the Commonwealth continues to cater to a business that's profitable to its generous campaign contributing owner.
From my vantage point, it's time for legislator to wake up and buy their own calculators.

Anonymous said...

You know the economy can't be filled with "jobs to aspire to". There are always going to be jobs that are exactly that jobs, not "careers". The people working at them need weekly paychecks. There will always be and always be the need for "refuse engineers", not everyone has had the advantage of growing up and going to college.

Anonymous said...

He's counting the people he employ's at the Brockton fair and the cleaning crews at various buildings he own's. He very well may employ 650, but they don't all work at the track. The fair and the cleaning crew's are all part -time and temporary,retiries and college students etc.

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