At the unveiling Thursday of House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s gaming bill, state Rep. Brian Dempsey, who put the plan together, said the two resort casinos and 3,000 slots at the state’s four race tracks would generate $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion in annual revenue for the state.
Dempsey’s initial claim, which was affirmed by his aides despite opponents expressing skepticism that the numbers were unrealistic, was incorporated into stories by a number of media outlets attending the State House press conference, including CommonWealth.
But Patrick Lynch, an aide to Dempsey, said Friday the estimate of $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion was actually an estimate of total gaming revenues. DeLeo is proposing a 25 percent tax on casino revenue and 40 percent tax on slot revenue, which would work out to estimated state tax revenue of at least $350 million to $475 million.
Just to set the record straight, we're a few days into this latest bonanza and the proponents are already forced to back off their claims by 75% in embarrassing fashion. My question: Do legislators actually know what they're voting on? It seems like, in this case, Representative Dempsey didn't. This is why public hearings and a comprehensive, independent cost-benefit analysis is important.
Well, for Representative Dempsey's benefit, and given the chance I won't be able to appear at a public hearing on the matter, the hit to the state lottery system is supposed to be about 10% -- which amounts to $100 million a year. To offset that, we're already at only $250 million in state revenue, under the Speaker's wildly optimistic bill, without even beginning to address:
- The costs of the regulatory agencies.
- Mitigation expenses for problem gamblers, regional nonprofits, businesses, schools, services or communities.
- Losses from tax revenue in regional businesses and how that would impact the state budget.