Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Sign the Slots Cost/Benefits Analysis Petition

Whether you agree with me, in that slot machines would be very bad policy for Massachusetts, or not, I'm sure everyone can agree that it's generally a good idea to do a comprehensive, nonpartisan study, that doesn't come from the industry or those who have been paid by them, on any potential major change to the state before we go ahead and do it. That's why I'm here to ask you to sign onto a petition asking for a comprehensive cost/benefits analysis on slot machines in Massachusetts.

Slots would have an impact on local communities, local businesses, families, crime, traffic and infrastructure needs (which extends way beyond traffic into areas like "how can we safely get enough water here") -- and even the arts. They can impact school systems, local police forces, and the environment.

There's a lot of very complicated things going on here when you're dealing with something as large as a casino, with a product as problematic as slot machines. The Governor recognized this when he signed onto the concept of a major, comprehensive cost/benefits analysis, but the Speaker of the House -- Representative DeLeo, he of two slot-wanting tracks in his district -- has been gung-ho against any comprehensive study.

Well, tell him we here in Massachusetts like to know just what we're getting into by signing onto a petition for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. Whether you support the idea of slots or not, we need to have this study to know what we're getting ourselves into. This is a basic, bare-minimum


Anonymous said...

If there is a study and it says slots are OK, will we see you at the ribbon cutting ceremony?

Gladys Kravitz said...

No study, unless performed by the likes of UMass Prof. Clyde Barrow, and others who receive their funding from the gambling industry will tell you slots are OK. That is why we are asking people to sign on to an INDEPENDENT analysis.

A true independent cost-benefit analysis will do just that - lay out the costs and benefits. Then, with this transparent information in hand, citizens and their elected officials, from town boards to the Governor can better determine if the costs are worth the benefits.

The gambling industry, not gambling opponents, fear this approach.

Ryan said...

Anon, if there's a comprehensive, independent study, absolutely. Though, for the record, Gladys is correct that such a study probably wouldn't say "slots are okay" or not okay, for that matter. What it would do would not only give an updated picture on revenue projects for actual state house proposals, but also give projects for the impacts those casinos would have on small businesses. For example, would the casinos jobs offset the jobs that would be lost in the greater region. What would be the impact on social services? How many more people would be likely to end up in prison with casinos and slot parlors, and how much would that cost us? What would be the traffic impacts, environmental impacts, water-use impacts and impacts on local school systems in the area of the casinos?

Those are all the kinds of questions that need to be answered. The problem with Barrow's studies and those like him, beyond sometimes questionable methodology, was the fact that Barrows never bothered to look at any of those kinds of questions. You simply can't look at something on this sort of scale in a vacuum. Casinos have a huge impact on entire regions, especially within 50 miles -- and not just on individuals, but small businesses and entire communities.

About Ryan's Take