Monday, September 3, 2007

Casino U

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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?”
“Bridgewater State.”
“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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I explored this thought a while ago. It will effect high school kids too. There are wealthy and poor in all towns surrounding the site. One side of the tracks has money to spend, one does not. Do we really really want the casino to be a career choice? Does it even belong here in our setting? Will people finally wake up when someone close to them is affected? Will it be too late? The truth is,there are alot of people in surrounding towns that say,"I hope you guys beat this thing, cos' I don't want it here." If anybody reading this is thinking that way, stand up and fight for your town,your peace, don't roll over or wait for other's to carry the heavy load.We all have busy lives. We all like down time. We all like to relax. Now is not the time for that.Don't be a whimp.Refuse defeat.Get educated. TOGETHER WE CAN STOP THE CASINO. STAND UP AND FIGHT.

wayne said...

On the subject of high schools,
check out the letter submitted by the school committee to atty whittlesey concerning long term plans. It looked to me like the school department was planning to
become "partners" with the casino.
If this happens, I am afraid I will be forced to seek other forms of education. I am trying to teach my children that hard work and education leads to success. Gambling, by nature, teaches the exact opposite. I cannot in good conscience allow a depatrment which will potentially glamorize casino gaming to be an influence on my children.

wayne said...

I should clarify my previous post by providing some details.
Under section D of a letter by Dr. Sullivan to Dennis Whittlesey 6/29,
some of the things the school department looks forward to are:

* Establishment if a "good neighbors" program which would allow for reasonable access to tribal/casino staff and facilities for the benefit of district students and staff including but not limited to operations tours, guest speakers, discounts, and a sharing of expertise and equipment.

* Participation as an employer/job site in the School District's career/intern programs.

* Designation of a tribal/casino operations' Liason to the School District to facilitate our relationship, maintain communications, and fulfill other needs as may arise.

There are more on this list but these three are what had me very concerned. It apperas to me as though the school department (on the interest on money ) are willing to promote this casino to our children, which I am extremely uncomfortable with.
Would the do the same if my church were to donate large sums of money to the school department?? Of course not! They can't!! It's against the law. But "partnering" with a facility which has been proven to expedite addictive behavior is apparently not a problem. Well, it is to me!

Gladys Kravitz said...

OMG! OMG! OMG!

Wayne darling, you and every parent of school-age or future school-age children should be VERY CONCERNED! You offer a good analogy - a school system can't exclude a partnership with religous groups and then go and embrace one with a gambling group. Hypocrisy!

And gambling IS still regulated or prohibited in much of this country FOR A REASON.

Why can't a school system just be a school system??? Stick to the books! Focus on education. Stay out of the casino!

Kool-aid alert!

This is unbelievable. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Barry from Middleboro said...

Wayne:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I find such thinking on the part of the School Department appalling. If my kids were school age again, I would send them to parochial schools in a heart beat. What are our educators thinking?

wayne said...

In a letter stating the board's unmanimous approval, they point out the fact that there is no other source of money, and that partnerships occur often to ensure survival.
But to "sell out" to this??
Survival at the cost of what??
I think everyone here has a good idea what that cost will be.

Anonymous said...

Certainly the State cannot continue much longer the way it has been. If things don't change in the next year or two, I can't imagine what will be happening in towns across the Commonwealth. I anticipate that the fiscal climate will be a different animal entirely by the time any casino money comes to pass. I think the town and schools should have been looking at what "might be" ten years from now, versus what "is" now, before grasping onto a casino as a life preserver. Wouldn't be ironic if we're in another state funding boom (like the 90's) when money from the casino finally starts rolling in? Obviously, the town officials responsible will be long out-of-office by that time.

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