Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ra, Ra, Ra! Shish, Koom, Bah! Let's Go Casinos!

Well, the Globe's casino cheer leading again, this time featuring Representative Brian Dempsey. Nothing like a nice Dempsey press release to get the story moving -- and nudge the Commonwealth a little further to casinos, a fantastic potential ad revenue source for enterprising Globe sales reps. Whee!

I'm not even going to block quote any of the story. Suffice it to say, there's some interesting competing stories going on. The Globe and Dempsey suggest that "jobs" are leading some reps to rethink their position, while the Boston Phoenix and Herald make other allusions.

From the second Herald story:
With a proposal to expand gambling expected to hit the House floor within weeks, nearly two dozen casino developers, slot machine makers and gaming proponents spent a staggering $2.2 million to pay lobbyists and related expenses in 2009.
The Phoenix also notes that Suffolk, that lovely little horsey track sitting in Speaker Deleo's district (that wants slots way more than horseys), paid out over $780,000 in lobbying this past year -- second most of any organization in the state. No wonder DeLeo took in $5,000 in lobbyist cash from "about" two dozen industry peeps this past year (his Committee for a Democratic House took in another 10k). Murray - and her Committee for a Democratic Senate - actually matches those numbers. Oh, yeah, it's just about the jobs. And I just spotted a winged-pig in my backyard.

If politicians in this state want to be taken credibly, it's well past time that they joined with the Governor in supporting a comprehensive study to analyze all the pros and cons of casinos in this state -- what jobs they'll create, what jobs they'll destroy, what revenue they'll generate and what revenue they'll force us to spend and, perhaps most importantly of all, how they'd impact our communities near and far from potential casinos. If the Speaker and Senate President, not to mention Representative Dempsey, are so confident casinos will lead to a net increase of jobs, why won't they agree to this full-scale, comprehensive, non-partisan study?

Maybe, it's because they're not so confident in their job predictions -- given that history suggests casinos and slot parlors lead to a net loss of regional jobs.
The fact that state constitutional provisions were utilized to make it as difficult as possible for future generations to legalize gambling activities (and thereby experiment once again with a classic "boom and bust" economic cycle) lends substantial credence to arguments that both historically and currently, the legalization of gambling activities eventually causes: (1) increased taxes, (2) a loss of jobs from the overall region, (3) economic disruption of other businesses, (4) increased crime and (5) large social-welfare costs for society in general and government agencies in particular. For example, two studies of the riverboat casinos in Illinois concluded that for every one job created by the riverboats, most of the surrounding communities probably lost one or more jobs from pre-existing businesses (Grinols 1994; Grinols and Omorov 1995).

In recent economic history, legalized gambling activities have been directly and indirectly subsidized by the taxpayers. The field research throughout the nation indicates that for every dollar the legalized gambling interests indicate is being contributed in taxes, it usually costs the taxpayers at least 3 dollars-- and higher numbers have been calculated.
So, will Speaker Deleo, Senator Murray and Representative Dempsey put their money where their mouth is and have the state fund the study to see if they're right about something that would so drastically change this state -- or will they continue to allow voters of this state to question the honesty and integrity of its elected leadership?


Anonymous said...

What did you think of the lottery just adding Powerball as an new option?

Ryan said...

Well, I honestly don't know how much more money the state lottery can squeeze out of the population. It already does "better" than any other state lottery system in the country. The average Mass citizen spends more than $900 a year on state lottery products... even though less than half the population ever plays the state lottery in a year. (That really means that of those who play the state lottery even once a year, the average would be thousands and thousands.... aka "problem gamblers.")

If I'd want to see any reform in the state lottery, though, it would be 1) less/no paid advertising and 2) no $20 tickets.

Anonymous said...

and when do you get rid of booze and butts since you want to be everyone's nanny

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

Typical anonymous coward comment - that opposing something that is currently illegal means you want to go after every vice. Let's call people "moralists" if they want a serious cost/benefit analysis.

Interesting convergence going on with the casino noises in the state house and the proposed land into trust in the Fall river area.

Something is rotten in the state of Massachusetts methinks

Anonymous said...

Mark Belanger



Ryan said...

I don't want to be everyone's "nanny." I oppose casinos and slots based on policy grounds. I do not oppose gambling. There are plenty of legal ways to gamble in Massachusetts -- I'm just opposed to the kind that has proven to be the worst for people, communities and economies.

It's very easy to throw around "nanny" insults, much harder to argue from the position of firm evidence. This blog has always used evidence to support its opinion that slot machines are bad policy for Massachusetts.

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

This blog has always used evidence to support its opinion that slot machines are bad policy for Massachusetts. .
Now that's just rabid anti-casino moralistic crazy talk ...

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