Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stan Rosenberg Thinks of Nothing But Casinos All Day

After reading "Inside Man: An interview with Stan Rosenberg, the State House’s casino expert," I had to double check that the article was actually published in the Globe, and not in The Onion.

Among the lawmakers who will be deciding the issue, no one knows more about this side of gambling than state Senator Stan Rosenberg. For the past two years, the Democrat from Amherst has been the Senate’s gambling guru, traveling to casinos in Nevada, Louisiana, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, and Canada to study the industry from the inside.

He has spent time with casino developers and money changers, walking windowless rooms full of noisy slot machines in an effort to understand what casinos would mean to Massachusetts - and how the state should handle them.
Ok, so... Rosenberg's been to a lot of casinos and spent some quality time with gambling industry insiders. Oooookaaay... That's nice. But the article fails to mention whether Rosenberg has spent any time listening to predatory gambling opponents. Which I don't think he has, since I would have heard about it. And, in my book, you can't really go around considering yourself a casino 'expert' if you've only studied them from the inside.

That just reminds me of those folks who frequent comment forums or message boards insisting that they've never had any problems with gambling... they've never seen any increase in crime... they've been to casinos and everything is super dee duper... bring on the promised embarrassment of riches! Recapture our god-given gambling revenue!

And I'm a little concerned about Rosenberg's taste level.
There’s waterfalls and all kinds of things. It’s a really beautiful venue, and you don’t even realize that you’re in a casino.
Um... Ok. If Stan can't tell the difference between stained glass rock formations and the real thing, maybe he needs to take some time off from the casinos and do a week or two of Outward Bound or something.

But why should you concern yourself with Stan the Casino Man and his rose-colored one-way superficial view of the gambling industry?

Well, not only is it possible that Stan will be a decision maker in upcoming expanded gambling legislation here in Massachusetts, but based on the vast empirical data he's gathered in the field, Stan thinks he knows where resort destination casinos would be best. And that might be near you.
There may be places in the Commonwealth where you could build things in the style of a Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun that don’t look out of place because they’re off on their own.
Stan's somewhat less-the-scientific assessment doesn't exactly take into account traffic or water availability or property values or environmental impacts or infrastructure improvements, and he obviously sports a misconception of what "off on their own" means, seeing as how there's not even one single solitary Massachusetts casino plan on the table that's nestled in the middle of nowhere.

But that doesn't bother Stan, because a.) he doesn't gamble (sarcasm) and b.) he knows that he's safe in Amherst, where a casino will never see the windowless artificially generated light of day.

But my favorite part of the article is when he was asked what he saw as the difference is between the lottery and casinos.
There’s nothing classy about playing the lottery. You’re buying a ticket. You may scratch it on the counter, in the car, at home....You’re just scratching and then you throw it away. You go into these gaming venues and you may see a show, go to a nice restaurant, you may walk around the mall and do your holiday shopping, and you may spend the night.
If Stan is really of the belief that 'casinos' imply 'class', I know some New Jersey housewives who'd like to make his acquaintance.

Repeat after me, Stan: Casinos are to Class as Spam is to Cuisine,

The only cache casinos can actually boast are when they're the places you can experience a private bacchanal with no lingering repercussions. 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' has been the pragmatic marketing strategy keeping that city marginally afloat during the worldwide economic meltdown.

Swinging off the exit to squander a few hours playing slots (which account for 70-80% of casino revenue) is not classy. It doesn't even come close to classy. It doesn't touch classy's hem. It's classy's silicon-enhanced leopard-stretch-pants wearing tattooed third cousin, twice removed.

Oh, and that money going into restaurants and shops, Stan, that's money not going into local restaurants and local shops (aka the local economy).

I'm not really sure why Stan Rosenberg is "The State House's casino expert" except perhaps that he (insert raised eyebrow) was 'hand picked' (like a ripe pear?) by Therese Murray (insert wink) to 'study' the wonder of it all (hmmmm), so she could avoid looking like a killjoy to her friends in the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, some of whom want to build the world's largest resort destination casino, not tucked away in the woods, but in the midst of homes, schools and businesses, and more importantly, in a town adjacent to her constituency.

But heck, you can't fault Stan for his humanity.
I have no doubt there will be more addiction, but I also am not one of those people who believes - I mean 94 percent of people can participate in slot machines without getting themselves in trouble. It’s hard for me to justify saying to 94 percent of people you can’t do what you want to do when 6 percent of the people can’t leave the machine when they’ve lost more than they should.
That's right Mr. Expert. It's that hard core six percent who support the industry. And we'll need them, won't we?
I’m not wild about gambling, but I don’t have this self-righteous attitude about gambling. My concern is that if we’re going to do it that it be a very strongly regulated system, that we address community mitigation, economic impacts, and the addiction.
Yeah, because the State does that so well now.

I don't know, folks... our man Stan may not be wild about gambling, but to hear him talk... it would appear that he does enjoy the drink.


Anonymous said...

Call me a suspicious but the first thing that entered my mind after reading your blog was - are the MA taxpayers paying for his research trips? Were his rooms complimentary? Just a ramdom thought and not an accusation by any means. If I knew how to find the answer I would look into it.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anonymous 2:11,

According to the article, Rosenberg was asked: Who pays for your travel?

To which he responded:

When I go to a state to participate in [a] national or regional meeting, I’ll extend my stay by a few days so I can do the research on the casinos. There’s no state money and no private money. It’s either out of my pocket or out of my campaign account.

No doubt Rosenberg's campaign contributors would be delighted to see their money going to support such important research, assuming, of course, that Rosenberg's supporters were predominately pro-casino. That's because it would appear all of his 'research' is done in casinos or at the hands of industry insiders, and therefore, one-sided.

I do find it odd, however, that Rosenberg, a self-professed non-gambler and very busy man, would spend several days at so many casinos across the country for his research, yet do so little time researching the well-documented costs of predatory gambling, which it's pretty obvious he hasn't done.

A visit to Stan, is, as always, free.

Middleboro Remembers said...


This guy's ....ignorance? has left me speechless.

Great blog!

Maybe he should start with Binkley's book that explains that Harrah's discovered 10% of patrons provided 90% of revenues and Harrah's then set about to delibrately target, market and promote that 10% of unsuspecting customers.

With this level of 'leadership,' it makes it that much more crucial to support an independent cost benefit analysis.

Gladys Kravitz said...

But it not just the lack of leadership! It's the lack of taste! It's the perceived cultural and geographical expertise! The superficiality! The genuflection to Murray!

Arrrrgggghhhh! How did this guy get on this committee??