Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Casinos Can't End Fiscal Mess

From today's Herald:
“I have been an opponent of casino gaming . . . but the territory we’re in right now is unprecedented in terms of the budget” said Rep. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton). “With the situation in such a great state of flux and the potential damage with my constituents, my mind is open.”
Let's remind Representative Kocot why we can't dig ourselves out of this mess with casinos -- and let's all be honest, legalizing casinos is digging.
  • Casinos are largely a redistribution of money already flowing in the economy -- up to 75% of all casino revenue was small business revenue before the casino came in.
  • Not only does that mean we're already taxing this mythical revenue casinos would bring in today, it means that the small businesses we already have in this state - the lifeblood of the entire economy - would be severely drained. Many businesses will cease to exist - as we've seen countless times in places like Detroit and Atlantic City, after casinos moved in.
  • Small businesses have an economic multiplier effect - money spent at your local sub shop ends up being spent at the barber, who spends it at the local deli. Money spent at the local casino gets sucked into the void, like watering a CEO's 100 acre lawn in the desert somewhere in Arizona.
  • If we legalize slots, the rate of gambling addiction will double -- and reach 5%. That means 1 in 4 families will be directly effected by problem gambling. If someone is an addict to gambling, they're a drain on the economy. Can 1 in 4 families afford to have that drain? Can our economy?
  • Casinos place huge burdens on our resources. The obvious ones are police, fire and addiction counselors. However, the even-more-problematic ones would be burdens on local schools. What happens when hundreds of new students are added to a school system that doesn't have the infrastructure to support them? What happens when those students are coming from families earning wages at or just above poverty level, requiring special assistance in the schools? What happens when the casinos who are bringing those families here aren't paying for them? The school system goes kaput, the town goes to hell, those who can leave and those who can't get stuck with a diminished quality of life and lower property values.
  • How many hundreds of millions of dollars will the Massachusetts "Gaming" Authority cost to staff and operate? How many more hack jobs will come into existence?
  • How many politicians and lobbyists in this state will end up going to jail over casino-related corruption (several already in the Middleboro efforts).
So, if there's any legislators starting to waver and waffle on casinos now, because of our state's "dire straights," they need to remember two things: 1. No state has ever balanced a budget or solved their fiscal woes with casinos and 2. Casinos won't make the Massachusetts fiscal picture better -- it will almost certainly make it worse, for all the reasons described above. Want to improve fiscal outlook? Do it like an adult, don't resort to games and gimmicks and predatory practices.


Middleboro Review said...

Way to go, Ryan!

I couldn't agree more. Those who are waffling, wavering or fully supporting gambling as a budget balancer are either uninformed or haven't read the information that's widely available about predatory gambling.

There are things that can be done to cut costs. Maybe those things are not the most pleasant, but we can get through this without predatory gambling.

One need only look at the actions that California has taken in the last 2 years as a warning.

Beacon Hill ignored what was coming until they have became desparate. Desparation will surely drive a hard bargain if casino licenses are sold!

Maybe it's time to behave like adults and make the necessary and unpleasant decisions. Make them now and stop whining!

Anonymous said...

Cut pensions,get rid of tolltakers and hack jobs,go to a 4 day work week,furlough employees,and get rid of the deadheads before you ask for new money.Beacon Hill just does not "get it."

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