BOSTON – Both House and Senate leadership announced today that they've agreed to go back to work in order to add a new amendment to the same gambling bill which passed through both houses in the preceding months.
But in what is perhaps an odd coincidence, the announcement came directly on the heels of a Commonwealth Magazine op-ed which cited several studies which would indicate that expanded gambling disproportionally harms minorities and the poor - "especially blacks and specifically black women" according to the op-ed.
Research suggests that while most people who gamble can do so without a problem - the majority of casino profits, to the tune of 70% – 90 % - are derived from patrons who are problem and pathological gamblers.
When asked about the timing of the amendment, the Senate's "casino-guru” Stanley Rosenberg (D – Irony) insisted that the amendment wasn't intended to take advantage of any particular demographic for the purpose of increasing revenue, but rather to provide what is obviously a popular entertainment attraction in regions of the state where they have been previously unavailable.
“Since most people can game responsibly, this amendment actually helps those members of the poor and minorities who might otherwise be unable to afford transportation to gaming opportunities in distant areas of the state” said Rosenberg.
Senate President Therese Murray responded to questions about the studies by stating that, “These studies are clearly elitist and don't show the whole story. This amendment has nothing to do with taking advantage of the poor and minorities. On reflection, senate leadership merely realized that casinos and slot parlors should ideally be located in areas where people have given up hoping for a job that pays a living wage."
When asked asked if he felt the studies were cause for concern, House Speaker Bob DeLeo dismissed the idea, stating that research also suggests that “rich white men have also been negatively impacted casinos... casino investors haven't been immune from the recession, you know.”
When asked to comment about the new amendment, Governor Patrick responded “I think it's a move in the right direction, one that actually offers more protection to the poor and minorities.”
Patrick, a self-professed practitioner of social justice, continued, “Locating casinos in predominately white or affluent neighborhoods across the state would just impact the poor and minorities even more. Look, we all know that they're the ones who'll be stopped and harassed by local police on their way home through the suburbs."
The Governor added, "I mean, it's bad enough to lose your shirt at a casino, but then to wind up with an expensive ticket or jail time - now that's a real economic hardship.”