Monday, March 16, 2009

Some Questions for Matt Viser on Slots

Hey Matt, how's it hanging? After reading your Sunday slot parlor article, I have some questions for you.

First off, before you go ringing the praises of the Pennsylvania slot system, what sort of investigation have you done on the numbers? While I'll take your word for it that tax revenue from slot machines in Pennsylvania brought $900 million in for the state, did you consider the fact that the state is much, much larger than Massachusetts? When you looked at the rate in which Pennsylvania taxes slots (55%), did you consider whether or not the state could actually get the sort of up-front fees Cahill seemed to wish? If not, at a 27% rate, doesn't that mean a potential Massachusetts slot parlor industry would earn peanuts next to Pennsylvania? Furthermore, since all the experts, including the oft-quoted Clyde Barrow, derided Treasurer Cahill's profit-per-slot numbers and licensing fees as wildly optimistic, why keep repeating them? Isn't that blatantly dishonest? Did you consider if the amount of lobbying dollars Cahill recieves (most in the state) has anything to do with these seemingly low-ball numbers or why he continually pushes the slot machine business?

Secondly, did you at all consider the revenue that other taxable businesses lost in Pennsylvania? How much of that $900 million was the state already bringing in from local restaurants, bars, clubs and other businesses -- all of which have a large multiplier effect, because money spent locally tends to go from one business to the next? If most of that $900 million is old money, isn't that actually a drain on the economy, since its now out of local hands and no longer multiplies, as local businesses are forced to close? Did you consider the loss of revenue the state lottery would take and how cities and towns would be able to cope with it?

Thirdly, how many of these numbers and articles are coming from industry press releases and sources? How many articles have you written boasting the revenue casinos bring in, without spending considerable time answering the previous questions above, versus the number of articles you've written about how the slot machines are predatory in nature. How many articles have you written describing the lives of those who have been addicted to slot machines? Have you written any articles that attempt to explain why counties with any slots in this country have bankruptcy rates that are 18% higher than counties without slots? Or how about articles on businesses that went under around Ledyard in Connecticut, Atlantic City, Detroit or any other area that's introduced casinos or slot parlors?

In all my years reading the Boston Globe, I remember only one really good article on the predatory nature of slot machines -- that explained how and why they were addicting in detail. My final, most important question: Why didn't your article at least reference that excellent piece -- and will your future slot-related articles include that side of the story?


Anonymous said...

what is it with you and gamgling? no one interferes with your life so if someone wants to gamble what the f'ck business is it of yours? here comes the lecture.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for reminding me why we cancelled our Globe subscription because of the slanted reporting.

After reading the article, one is left with the impression that it was a lazy day, some industry hack wrote it for Matt and he didn't have to do any work, much less actually think.

Only half of the slots have opened and that's the revenue? Pretty impressive! Where are the costs?

6,200 jobs? 17,000 construction jobs?

The whole article sounds like a fairy tale.

Crime stats don't usually increase dramatically the first 2 years. Local businesses losses the same in a good economy.

Sad commentary on the Globe!

Ryan said...

Anon 5:44,

Not anywhere on this blog or others have I said people shouldn't be allowed to gamble. Indeed, quite the opposite. Feel free to have a fun Friday night with your friends and play Texas Hold'em to your heart's content. I've never wrote a blog asking people to not head to Suffolk Downs to see the pretty horses cross the finish line. If you want to use slots, you can feel free to go to Rhode Island, Connecticut or even the Horizon's Edge Cruise ship that leaves off of Lynn.

I care about slot parlors and casinos in Massachusetts because I care about policy and the impacts on society. It's a statistical fact that gambling addiction rates double when slot machines are within 50 miles of a house. It's another statistical fact that slot parlors and casinos are a tremendous drain on the local economy, dooming many small businesses that are foundational to our communities.

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