Monday, September 3, 2007
Yesterday, on my walk through town, I watched teenagers carrying suitcases.
Computers, TV’s and min- fridges were being shuttled down the street in hand carts, while people hoisted boxes and armloads of books. Everybody looked a little lost.
The kids were back for another year at Bridgewater State College.
Watching it unfold, as I do every year around this time, I had to smile. I remember pouring over college catalogs in junior year of high school, trying to decide on the best place for me. At that point in my life, it was the biggest decision I’d ever had to make. I remember filling a cardboard box with albums, some paperbacks, a teddy bear, framed photographs, and loading it into the car, exchanging my bedroom in Middleboro for a dorm room in Boston.
It’s an exciting time for a student.
But if a casino comes to Middleboro, potential students will have to consider another factor into their choice. Do they really want to go to a school located a few short miles from what has been described as‘the world’s largest casino’?
Can't you just imagine the inevitable conversation...
“So… where do you go to school?”
“Oh… the casino college?”
Bridgewater State will avoid all connections to a next-door mega casino on it’s web site and in it’s literature, of course, but the fact remains, if you drive down the road that runs right in front of Boyden Hall, BSC’s stately and iconic main building, in less than ten minutes you’ll find yourself at the proposed site.
And parents, too, may want to consider if they really want the lure of gambling and 6,000 slots so close to their kids.
And they absolutely should.
Due to the explosion of televised poker championships and on-line gambling sites, gambling addiction among college students is skyrocketing. The existence of an enormous casino so close to their campus further sends the message that gambling is acceptable, exciting, and even something desirable.
The marketing dollars spent to promote the new casino will be staggering. People in-state and out will be subjected to "The Wonder of It All" type of commercials which will run all night and day on all channels.
The Gaming and Alcohol industries both face the problem of having to market to a demographic which includes those who are legally prohibited from participating. And just as underage college students manage to find ways to get hold of alcohol, they will find a way to get into casinos. In fact, it's already happening and causing a regulatory problem for the gaming industry.
In a study for The College Student Journal, students residing in an environment which affords many opportunities to gamble were surveyed. Though 21 is the legal age for casino gambling, 59.8% of 18 year olds, 72.8% of 19 years olds and 86.1% of 20 year olds admitted they’d gambled at least once in a casino. For college students over 21, the percentage rose to 92.5%.
And making things worse, according to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, "Teenagers have a problem gambling rate of 10%-17%, a rate 2 to 3 times higher than the general population."
College students who become problem gamblers will spend money they don’t have, max out their credit cards, steal money or credit cards from others, resort to other crimes to pay off their gambling losses, lie, borrow and steal from family and friends, do poorly in school, lose jobs and scholarships, and eventually become depressed and suicidal.
And let's not forget that this casino would offer free around-the-clock drinks. How many college students wouldn’t drive ten minutes for that?
Bridgewater State College is still an excellent choice for an education. I’ve watched BSC shine under the leadership of Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria, and am pleased he is pursuing University status for the College. But as an alumna of BSC myself, I would definitely prefer not to see it’s reputation tainted by it’s proximity to a huge casino.
As we can see on maps, this proposed casino is close enough to schools, playgrounds and residential neighborhoods. But it’s most insidious effects may be experienced by the students and their families, of the college just up the street.
Posted by Gladys Kravitz at 11:48 AM