Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pegged

There I was, at Thursday's meeting in Halifax, of the Regional Task Force on Casino Impacts, expecting we'd all just talk about Carcieri, have a good laugh and adjourn for the rest of eternity.

And yet, it was not to be. To my surprise, though virtually all members of the Task Force were up to date on Carcieri and it's ramifications (unlike Middleboro), they were all still making plans to keep going, to continue with their research, to meet with legislators, and to accumulate data on potential impacts.

Seems that, in light of all the other crazy things we've been subjected to in the last two years, they're not convinced some commercial enterprise couldn't plant a casino in that location.

My first thought was, naahh... that spot is too environmentally sensitive. The State will never let it happen.

Then...

The more I thought about it, the more I realized they're right. We're actually probably in more danger of a casino if slots are approved in Massachusetts than we ever were with a Tribe.

Think about it. The Tribe's application was always horribly flawed. But a 2002 Harvard Study pinpointed the area Middleboro as the primo spot for a destination resort casino.

"But wait", you say, "If there's going to be a casino, it'll probably just be a casino in New Bedford."

True. That's also my guess - for casino #1.

But you don't really think there'll be just 1, 2 or even 3 casinos, do you?

I attended a presentation at Plainridge race track earlier this year in which the owner was very clear that, once he got the OK to install slots, it was only a short matter of time before he built a nice big hotel and casino up around it.

With a gleam in his eye, and a dream in his heart, he shared his vision via photos of other posh casino/hotel complexes.

So let's see, who are the front runners? I'm going to say New Bedford, East Boston (Suffolk Downs), and Palmer, followed by Raynham, Revere, Plainville and... Middleboro!

Ok, now you're saying, "we'll never have that many casinos in Massachusetts."

Listen, if Massachusetts legalizes slots, there will be a casino every time we need the money, which is pretty much every time we turn around.

I've met people all over this country fighting predatory gambling and let me tell you, once you open the floodgates to expanded gambling, grab a life vest.

I've used this map before to demonstrate population density in our country. See how dense it is in our neck of the woods? (Click the map for a better look.)

The travesty of Federally assisted Indian "Gaming" opened the door to unprecedented gambling expansion in our country - mostly in remote areas at first.

Believing they had no recourse but to sign Indian "gaming" compacts with federally recognized sovereign tribes on reservations within their boundries, States soon realized they could also negotiate for a percentage of tribal casino revenue, most notably slot revenue, if they legalized gambling.

And so, in turn, these States quickly began to authorize and license commercial casinos - to be located in more densely populated, more lucrative areas.

Indian 'gaming' quickly learned to compete with commercial 'gaming' for customers via a purposely manipulated loophole known as "off-reservation gaming", which in turn gave birth to a loathsome phenomenon known as "reservation shopping", along with similar abuses.

Now empowered with a growing acceptance of 'gaming' - both tribal and commercial, wealthy casino investors with insatiable appetites for new opportunities began to drool over those dark blue areas on population density maps.

They waved tantalizing financial possibilities - such as licensing fees and revenue sharing - like big juicy carrots in front of state legislators who were hard pressed to cut costs or reign in spending. They encouraged a sense of 'inevitability', low-balled costs and over-emphasized potential benefits.

Every State-wide gambling push became a months-long infomercial. Both legislators and the public alike were expected to be outraged over revenue escaping needlessly into smarter, wiser gambling States, while understanding that they needed to act now if they wanted to re-capture it.

(They tried not to let you read the small print where you'd notice that these gambling States also have higher taxes...)

And right now, with our own legislative density running at an all time high, combined with with a recession, Patrick's (it's entertainment!) cluelessness, Deleo's committment to saving the tracks, Cahill's under-funded ambition and now Murray's suspiciously enthusiastic endorsement of casinos even as neighboring Twin Rivers strangles on it's own debt (Kaching!), the drool is positively puddling on the floor.

And let's not forget, where slots go, so does corruption. We've already seen it. It is an expectable and predictable impact of gambling. The more slot machines we allow into this State, the more casino investors will run it.

Do you really think billionaire casino investors will care about aquifers and swamps? Salamanders and alewives? Rules and regulations?

Even a glass-half-full optimist like me isn't that naive.

All they'll care about is maximizing profits while we'll just be another casino hot-spot on the map in a State which will quickly learn to lean on their shoulders every time they need an influx of revenue.

You wash my back...


I think most of us have a sense about this. We know how our State operates. While Connecticut can be one of those "social gamblers" who can get away with two casinos - Massachusetts is like the guy who knows that if he goes to the casino even once, he's going to come out broke.

Remember, there are 23 casinos and counting in Michigan. California has 45, many which compete by allowing 18 year olds to gamble. Pennsylvania passes gambling laws in the middle of the night, and wants to put a casino next door to the Liberty Bell.

So, you know what? I think the Regional Task Force is right about staying on course. And I think that everyone who doesn't want to be steamrolled by corruption and the casino industry should be doing everything in their power to stop expanded gambling in our state.

A good start would be to get out your powerful pens and write to your legislators. Today.

And furthermore, and this is very important, send a copy of that letter to the:

Massachusetts Democratic Party
56 Roland Street
North Lobby
Suite 203
Boston , MA 02129

Telephone number: (617) 776-2676
Fax number: (617) 776-2579

And/or submit an e-mail here.

This is the party that is running the show right now.

But small, focused grassroots efforts have extricated our State from the jaws of gambling predators in the past. Thankfully, you have 2 years experience learning every casino or slot impact under the sun.

Don't assume anything's a 'done deal' or that all our legislators are anxious to support expanded gambling, that they're busy shoving bribe money under their shirts, or that they know or read everything. And please, understand that some really do care about doing the right thing and making the right decision.

Share your knowledge. Show your outrage. End the casino arms race.

Because face it - we've been pegged.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG!

Anonymous said...

There seem to be so many too anxious to bail out the tracks, including our very own Rep. "Slots" Flynn and Senator "But For" Pacheco, that I can see the floodgates already.

Where could we stop it once slots are legalized?

We can't!

Gladys, thank you once again for making it clear for us!

Anonymous said...

This is quite disturbing! Everytime I breathe a sigh of relief that we're close to beating this nightmare....oops there it is....another set of obstacles to overcome. But I refuse to relent. Time to start that letter writing campaign again.

Gladys Kravitz said...

The good news is that eventually, people will start to figure out that unbridled gambling is a bad thing.

And at some point, it will become common knowledge that the holy casino cash cow - the slot machine - is rigged and designed to addict.

What we need to do now is to send repeated messages that we do not want expanded gambling in this State.

Every year that our State rejects it shows how wicked smahht we are.

Connecticut wouldn't have gambling it it wasn't foisted on them. Other New England states have continued to reject it.

Don't buy into someone else's idea of 'inevitable' or let them think you are powerless to fight it.

You're not.

Anonymous said...

Gladys,

Kudos for another informative blog!

Just when I start to lose all hope, you're there!

Slots, racinos and casinos make no sense to me and haven't from the time this monster was proposed in Mboro.

I have known too many who got hooked to want it closer than CT.

Each and every time I hear the state leadership stand on the casino/slot bandwagon and wave their banners, all I hear is the REVENUES.Where are the costs?

Perplexed said...

Gladys;

I agree with your general perspective about the abhorent predative nature of the business of gambling.

If I follow your logic about the selection of Middleboro as a location for a commercial casino, it seems to go as follows:

A.) "a 2002 Harvard study pinpointed the Middleboro area as a as the primo spot for
a destination resort casino."

B.) Relative to Middleboro in the pecking list:
"I'm going to say New Bedford, East Boston (Suffolk Downs), and Palmer, followed by Raynham, Revere, Plainville and... Middleboro!"

C.) "Remember, there are 23 casinos and counting in Michigan. California has 45,"


With all this said, I would have to make several notes:

Re. A.) Did the Harvard study consider that there would be about six other casinos in the state ( your item B,) nevermind Hollywood East to compete with ?

Re. B.) The six other locations listed already have existing or at least cheaper, infrastructure situations.

Re. C.) Michigan and California have larger populations and geographic areas from which to draw people from.

Now, we know that this is all about $$$ for the pro casino crowd.

So with all this said, what is the business logic which would lead you to believe that Middleboro is a good casino investment location over any other non infrastructure ready location in the state?

Gladys Kravitz said...

what is the business logic which would lead you to believe that Middleboro is a good casino investment location over any other non infrastructure ready location in the state?Greed.

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are geographically close, and that didn't stop their business decisions to build. Proximity to other casinos also lessens the need for vast infrastructure improvements. But, I'm not sure I understand why Hollywood East would effect a casino siting decision.

Massachusetts has greater population density than CA or MI. Las Vegas is a focused area w/many casinos and small local population. People go there. It's a destination. Atlantic City has a large population and many casinos. I think the greed (oh I mean gambling) expands to fit the mold it is given.

Agree with me or not, I feel that if our State legalizes slots, any stretch of land along a highway is going to be game. And I want people to understand that. The Middleboro area has already been identified as a hot spot. I believe slot parlors and casinos will proliferate. People who have become concerned about a Middleboro casino in the past two years should continue to be continue concerned and actively oppose expanded gambling. I didn't say they would do well or predict their size. But it would be a feeding frenzy.

It's just how we do things.

"No state has been able to control gambling once it is started within their borders... Look at our lottery. What started out as a little green ticket once a week now fires off a keno game every four minutes! And with each expansion, the economy becomes more dependent on gambling revenues." --Dan Bosley

Anonymous said...

Gladys,

Gotta luv ya, hon!

A slot on every corner and chicken in ev'ry pot!

It'll never end unless we say "NO CASINOS NO SLOTS" !!!!

Let the race tracks DIE.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Works for me.

Jacquie said...

Gladys,

You're right on here. I just spent an evening with a relative who is gambler (imagine how comfortable that was!). She tried to convince me that the only reason she goes to Mohegan is to enjoy the concerts, shopping and shows. Nevermind the $2000.00 she lost while she was there at the slots.

Addicts will convince themselves that what they are doing is harmless. We cannot dictate morals in others and I am not trying to do that. However, for our government to make "cha ching" (as Murray puts it) on the weaknesses of others is SO wrong.

Casinos will prey on the 18-21 year olds too. Heck, they have Mom and Dad's credit cards....why not?

We need to become more physically and vocally visible in this fight. Radio shows will be talking about casinos. What should we do? CALL IN and state your opinion!
Let's keep the letter writing going!

We're feeling the pressure mounting since there will be another vote on casinos in the fall.

A movement at the statehouse will again be called for. We need to show our Legislature that we do not want casinos in this state!

Thank you to Gladys and all of the other bloggers for giving us all a common place to organize. You've been our savior Gladys and the intensity for the NO CASINO fight is building again.

Anonymous said...

Senate President Therese Murray's "Ca-ching" really offended me. Wonder how much goes into her campaign coffers?

God forbid they do some budget cutting. Some pension reform? It's not even about how much money could be saved, but restoring some credibility. California has been laying off and furloughing state employees. That works for me! Where do these clowns cut? The most vulnerable.

Anonymous said...

I oppose slots because I know if they were next door, I'd be there!

Jacquie said...

So, everyone will be spending their discretionary money (which BTW no one really has) at the casino/slot parlors.

People will go to the casinos hoping for that BIG win. They will end up in more debt, unable to pay their bills. Foreclosures and bankruptcies will be even higher. The local economy will suffer since everyone is going to the casinos. Local business will have to lay off more workers d/t decreased business and they'll be more job losses.

Gov. will raise taxes even more (for the 1/2 of the population that actually pays taxes) just look at the taxes in Connecticut!
.....sound like a smart plan and nice future for Mass?

If you don't like the above scenario then do something. Stop being apathetic and ACT. Get angry , write letters and speak out!
Follow Gladys' blog for what we can all do to keep casinos out of Mass.

Anonymous said...

Jacquie,

If you look at what Indiana did to save their dead horse tracks, they allowed slots, made mega bucks selling the licenses and now the track owners can't pay the loans because of interest rates and overestimation of revenues!

Boo hoo hoo hoo!

So Indiana bailed them out, just like Rhode Island will with the same investors who would run the Mashpee Wampanoag Fiasco if it ever came to be (which it won't).

Does anyone see how ludicrous this is?

Bail out the tracks? Then bailout the slots?

There's no money. No jobs. Just that Fool's Gold!

Anonymous said...

This whole thing sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me.

We accept slots.

The costs get too high, so we need more revenue to subsidize the slots.

Unless you're being wined and dined by casino lobbyists, there is no logic here.

Anonymous said...

How come no one wants to talk about the crime that comes along with casinos? The police said there would be no increased crime but the IGA includes more cops. Of course, there will be an increase. Las Vegas tells us so. Prostitution, drugs, petty crime to raise money to gamble, poor performing schools.
There is not any state that has prospered with gambling. Why would we copy failure?

Anonymous said...

What does it say about the Task Force that they seem informed about Carcieri and the Mboro BOS does not?

Does anyone know if the Mboro BOS has even read the decision? Have they read the original agreement? They seem pretty uninformed.

Anonymous said...

Casino arms race? That certainly describes this race to the bottom!

Well done, Gladys!

Anonymous said...

Gladys,

Carcieri made me relieved in one sense but the state makes me anxious when they Murray and Cahill talk slots.

Whether its in Mboro or Raynam, its to close.

Making me realize that its not over is good so I can get back to some serious letter writing before I have slots in Everet Square.

Anonymous said...

It's like the movie 1984,only with politicians and casinos.The end of peace and quiet everywhere.Don't say anything crass about casino's or you'll be stretched!

Anonymous said...

We need to make elected officials more responsive to us -- the little people and not the George Carneys. Where do we begin?
They don't seem to be listening.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Kravits am I hearing a hint of concession or just kinks in the armor ? Could it be you actually may have visions of commercial gambling houses on the horizon ? Say it ain't so !

Gladys Kravitz said...

Anon. 11:09,

Where on earth are you getting that message??

And no, it certainly AIN'T so.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the supporters want to discuss the issues?

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