Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Consumer Confidence

Mohegan Sun settles in for the long haul.

Not to be outdone by Deval Patrick's crushing defeat in last session's casino war, gambling barons from over the border have set up shop in lovely little Palmer Massachusetts, and taken out a 50 year lease on some property where they'd like to put yet another casino.

Now, obviously we'd have to be talking about a commercial casino since the Mohegan Tribe is located more than 25 miles away from Palmer, and besides, I suspect they'd have a hard sell trying to convince the BIA that they need another billion dollar casino in order to support a tribe of 1,700 people.

But no matter to the Mohegans. Because they have a lot of confidence. No, not in the economy (especially since that's already contributed to their decision not to build another hotel at the Sun, not to mention financial woes all the way to Las Vegas), but in something a little more tangible.


Because these guys know that sooner or later, some politician somewhere is going to go looking for that big chunk of cheese that'll make all of his or her problems go away - not unlike Governor Weicker of Connecticut who valiently fought the Pequots and Class III gambling for years - until he needed help with a budget shortfall.

And they know they can count on other elected officials - much like our own Reps. Canessa, Calter, Flynn and Pacheco - to underestimate costs and impacts to (and the potential of) the folks and the places they represent. And there's always others who won't do any homework at all - but will cite a certainty or a sense of inevitability.

And certainly, certainly, enough time you will produce a useful somebody to look the other way or even actually give you a hand.

Because hey, the casino industry keeps it's finger on the pulse of the dark side. They keep a lookout for Tribes with potential highway access. They take the clocks away and bring back smoking. They make death threats and float rumors about the people who stand in their way. They keep building a better mousetrap slot machine to help people play faster and longer - and even to extinction. They even have their own Kool-Aid Phd on speed-dial. And heck, you know they've never found a Federal loophole they can't drive a Wells-Fargo armored truck stuffed full of cash through.

So taking out a 50-year lease in a small town and waiting for someone foolish enough to come looking for crumbs in a room with cat sitting there waiting - well as far as the casino industry is concerned - that's a safe bet.

But it's OK, because both the useful and the amoral all have a plan so that no one gets hurt - most especially them. They will be smarter, wiser, more prepared. Casinos won't control them - hell no - they'll control the casinos. Let the casinos work for us! Here, rub some of that magic mitigation on and it will keep you safe. No sense letting all that cheese go to waste. There's so much to be gained! It all makes perfect sense!

Except that, in the end, it doesn't. Like a cat patiently stalking the mouse, waiting for him to make that oh so predictable move toward the cheese or crust of bread, he knows the costs. And he's well familiar with the impacts. He's seen this before. But that's why the cat can spend all day stalking the mouse. He's got a lot less to lose.

And that's why Mohegan Sun is now so willing to wait patiently for enough of our State legislators, local officials and other assorted useful somebodies to take a well planned, excuse-laden moral nosedive - and they can make a meal of our state.

Which, despite the proud example of so many of our legislators during the recent gambling debate, has long made me wonder - could the real reason so many folks see gambling as inevitable here in the Bay State be because the faith they've placed in our leadership - faith to do the right thing, to keep us safe, to protest what is wrong, to stand up to the lure of big money, to be smarter, wiser, to work harder and more creatively, and to be men and not mice - has been shaken so many times. And not only here, but across the country and in DC, too. It's almost as if many of us won't even bother setting high or even acceptable standards for our leaders anymore. At least not around Middleboro, and maybe not even Palmer.

And when your expectations sink that low, isn't there really only one ending to the story.


Anonymous said...

Great Blog as always. If I were a foreign investor interested in building a casino in Middleborough, the first thing I would do be to get a couple local good'ol'boy pols on my side. Then I would hire a lawyer, an engineer and a psychologist to convince the local residents that casinos are the best thing since sliced bread. Why didn't Sol and Len thing of that??

Anonymous said...

Scot Fearsome's INEVITABILITY predicshuns keep a soundin' in ma ears -- i's a comin' Gladys! Ya jist cant stop it! 18 months and da massive super duper worl's largist casino will be in da 'boro!
So's hows a come they didn' buy da land? Wheres da terms of dis lease t'ing? Wha's da cost? Betcha is nottin' till dem doors open jist like da 'boro.
Le's no' count da $$$ 'til we sees da $$$. An' le's not be's beleevin' da jive.

cdplakeville said...

Yes, great blog.

It is all about the money. The players want to win it. The house wants you to lose it. The pols want to take it and spend it and bribe you to think they are giving it back to you so you can go and lose some more. But when the budget busts and the factory isn't make enough cheese for you, the house still has its take. We lose cause the house always wins.

Anonymous said...

Our anti-casino stake in the ground stands straight and strong, and has withstood the batting the casino cats have given us.

But on the other hand.....

Your blog, Gladys, is disheartening because it shines the light on the future, and it clearly illustrates that the casino cats have time and patience, and can almost predict when the mice will come out of their holes looking for the cheese. Of course the cats are ready and have many stockpiles of cheese to offer the mice.

Once the mice eat the cheese, the cats are in the door, the casino is up and running and the cats have captured their version of social security.

But thankfully, not in Middleboro!

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 10:48,

I didn't want to be disheartening!

I was just trying to illustrate what casino interests think about our leadership, and how many of us don't have faith in that leadership to stand up against them.

The legislature DID THE RIGHT THING AND stopped the casino bill earlier this year. And at last night's casino forum in New Bedford, Selectman Bruno from Halifax and Rep. Strauss were eloquent and informed in their opposition.

Senator Morrisey was a casino investor's dream - wrong on practically everything, spewing misinformation with every breath.

But that's why we're here - to get the facts out.

I believe the pendulum is swinging back on the gambling industry and the 50 year lease in Palmer is just a stunt to prove the cat's confidence in catching the mouse.

But we have proof from other states that casinos aren't the goose that laid the golden egg. We know there are so many costs social and economic involved. And never forget - it's NOT a done deal. There is no inevitability here. America is demanding change, not the same old same old. Progression, not regression!


Anonymous said...

Well said, and I of course fully appreciate your caution along with your reminders.

Once again the old adage of being up to date on rulings, meetings, and readings....is proof for the pudding.

Which I am going to make right now. Some homemade butterscotch pudding, layered with fresh bananas, and crushed salted peanuts.

Regression of another kind!!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Barbara Anderson will wake up and get on board. Since she is determined to continue to be an irritant, why isn't she protesting this? I'd even campaign for a constitutional amendment to ban casinos and slot machines permanently so we don't have this silly fight each year. As Senator But For said, they'd support it in those affluent suburbs.
Gladys, I think we'll see a few casinos in bankruptcy. What a shame! :> Maybe even Twin Rivers in RI. Booo hoo hoo hoo

Anonymous said...

Your pictures alone tell the story.

Everyone in the state of Massachusetts, "PAY ATTENTION"

carverchick said...

Perhaps if our State government, in all it's infinite wisdom would for once acknowledge that there is more to Massachusetts outside of the metro Boston area, then Palmer wouldn't be so quick to jump on the casino bandwagon. Western Mass has been ignored for as long as I can remember - I grew up there, I know. I also know that the western part of the State has alot to offer other than casinos for entertainment. Such a shame that casino investors have preyed on our small towns, giving them false hope of all sorts of riches through all those wonderful casino jobs....ugh!

Well, I can handle another 50 years of fighting....