Friday, May 29, 2009

The Sucker Zone

For Chuck Shea...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

You read enough casino-related articles and they all start to sound alike.

Take this ho-hum dispatch from the land of inevitability, no doubt intended to stress-out and intimidate the good people of the Palmer region as much as it it to sell papers, entitled:

"Mohegans Seek Niche, Won't Tout Slots: Efforts to launch full-scale casino in western Massachusetts to stress 'non-gaming amenities' like food, entertainment'"

No, what mixes things up for me lately, are the comments following these articles - especially the articles in CT papers.

I suspect it's a little like sitting up at midnight watching the Housewives of New York City reunion episode. Hey, the series was fun - but you can't beat the candid comments that come out at the end.

It's all there - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and you cannot look away. And sure, some of it makes sense - but then, some of it is a lot like trying to have a conversation with Kelly with Bethany in the same room.

And so, I've printed the comments here, pro and anti alike, for your perusal and enjoyment. You can draw your own conclusions, but from what I can tell, if you like concerts and have an empty nuclear waste site just lying around - casinos are the way to go.

Ladies and gentleman, for your submission... postcards from the casino zone. (a.k.a Connecticut)

Posted - 5/18/2009 8:41:55 AM
"destroying what...peaceful beauty we once had" Hmmm, I wonder if the tribes said the same thing when immigrant colonists settled on their lands?

Posted - 5/18/2009 8:24:29 AM
The vice president of development will not showcase his raison d'etre, it's connotation allowing Palmer folks to denote soberly what's in store, so to speak, but the accoutrements buoyed by the gambling, or "gaming" in his words, amenities, indeed, to cajole.
Two Arms -- No Bandit
Pawcatuck, CT

Posted - 5/18/2009 3:08:22 AM
I do not think gambling should be what all states depend on for income. The states already receive taxes from its people now they want our hard earned pay checks. Yes I do think casinos are great because it is some form of entertainment and I am happy to have them here in CT. But the jobs they create are low paying jobs and just barely keeps people off of welfare. If we eventually have a casino in every state it will make it way to easy for to many people to lose there money. Having said that casinos are great for entertainment purposes but to many people think they are going to win and end up losing everything they own. So we do not need casinos all over the place but just enough for the entertainment they bring.

Posted - 5/17/2009 9:21:20 PM
Taxes do not go down.Cost for the towns operation go way up.Thousands of more cars and trucks on the roads.Import most workers from NY.New workers live 10 or more in small homes.Have to hire many teachers for non english speeking workers children at 50,000 a pop.Locals think gambling is fun. Many go bankrupt.Nothing good about a casino for locals.Have you ever seen the slums behind the Atlantic city casinos? There is a reason for that.AlsoWorkers have to put up with 2nd hand smoke.The first 3 homes on the block will sell for tripple the value. The rest can only take what is offered.Local business on road to casino put signs in windows. Don' ask directions, we do not want to be bothered.Town would not put up signs, "not our job". The good news - great conerts..
Montville CT.

Posted - 5/17/2009 4:56:50 PM
To, to John M from Uncasville. Most of the area where the casino is now used to be United Nuclear and closed down I believe in the early ninetys. Its better to have something there that creates jobs than some empty building. To say that it was all woods and chicken coops is not true.
Uncasville, CT

Posted - 5/17/2009 4:54:31 PM
To the person who posted that the Mohegans have disrespected the land, the land that the casino sits on was a nuclear power plant and part of it was also an ash landfill. So, what are you talking about? The "supercenters" you describe were built by someone other than the tribe. That chicken farm you speak about has not been in operation for decades and the coops became run down and eventually collapsed. It is kind of comical that some of you blame the tribes for everything nowadays. While were at it, let us blame them for swine flu, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and the recession.

Posted - 5/17/2009 4:22:39 PM
John M, I agree with what you said. However, Norwich has always been a rat hole!!!! The streets of Norwich are terrible. The schools are over crowded and the crime rate is way too high. I'll stay here in Groton.
Groton citizen
Groton, CT

Posted - 5/17/2009 2:52:28 PM
We should make the Casino's a proposition,we pay them a percentage of revenue for a short period of time to get them to move the hell out!! All this gambling is just going to bring our local towns beauty and natural prosperity down.There was nothing good about them bringing gaming into our State,,all low paying jobs,more corruption,destroying what we local citizens once had,peaceful beauty we once had.

Used to be beautiful CT

Posted - 5/17/2009 2:16:10 PM
I agree with Mike, the bottom of Mt. Greylock is also close to ski resorts !!Many travel that route through the Mohawk Trails,especially during the fall as my family and I have done for years.That would be perfect and also close to New York Border !!

Posted - 5/17/2009 1:58:16 PM
How is it that they have all this money to build a resort in Mass. but they don't have enough to finish that new casino that is half done?

Posted - 5/17/2009 12:09:05 PM
Norwich has JUST become a rat hole? I grew up in Groton, CT and we ALWAYS thought of Norwich as a rat hole with New London coming in second place to a rat hole!

Posted - 5/17/2009 11:59:33 AM
I suggest Palmer area businesses pay a visit to our area and see how the casinos have benefited area restaurants and entertainment venues. The casino's goal is to keep every dime on site. The numbers being tossed about by those promoting gambling in Massachusetts are plucked from thin air. If one was to build a casino in Western Mass it should be in North Adams at the foot of Mt. Greylock. That is a terribly depressed area, but with wonderful potential. You could build a genuine destination resort there, one were gamblers could spend a week and do a lot more than visit the casino floor.
Michael Casteel
New London, CT 06320

Posted - 5/17/2009 11:59:05 AM
The cancer is growing! Bait and switch, mask yourself with entertainment then slip in the dark exploitive business of gambling.
Groton, CT

Posted - 5/17/2009 11:35:07 AM
John M is so right. I have lived in Uncasville for 34 years and it used to be full of trees, not a stoplight to be seen, no traffic at all, Mohegan Sun was a forrest and chicken farm. It was beautiful country, now I pass Supercenters on my way to work and one mile on Rt. 32 takes 20 minutes. I miss the old country Uncasville was, before the Mohegans saw dollar signs and respected their land.
to John M
Uncasville, Ct

Posted - 5/17/2009 11:07:29 AM
I think it should become a full scale casino with table games. Not all gamblers play slots,although the slots take in alot of revenue.A penny slot machine "some may think they are saving," but in actuality it is costing them if not as much but more than playing 50cent - 1.00 slots.Depends on how many credits and lines they play,but usually it can be just as costly."SO, with me stating this,I believe you well see time down the road the areas becoming dilapidated and run down due to moneys going into slots ,rather than maintaining properties.You should have facilities to draw high rollers into that area rather than penny slots that well only entice the locals if you really cared about bringing in revenue to help the economy.Many from massachusetts already come into Mohegans Sun in Connecticut,arent you afraid that you would lose revenue from Connecticut ? If that happens are you going to be able to employ in Connecticut, or can your employees expect layoffs and more job cuts?


Posted - 5/17/2009 10:57:28 AM
'non-gaming amenities' like food, entertainment" .....and DRUNK DRIVING. Careful what you wish for Palmer, Ma. Build it and they will come.....

Posted - 5/17/2009 10:39:12 AM
John, Norwich IS a rathole, Norwich IS better than it was, by far, and Palmer IS a rathole, therefore an easier sell by the Mohegans.
Norwich, CT

Posted - 5/17/2009 10:34:51 AM
The millions of dollars that they claim will come to the area will be quickly sucked up by all the social needs like bi-lingual teachers, new schools, school expansions, new sewer rates, extra EMTs and police, and higher rents because of an influx of outside workers, not to mention all the crime. Just look at CT's statistics before you decide. And let's not forget all the traffic that doesn't stop at any local place to buy anything. It's off the highway, loose all their money, and back on the highway to limp home on an empty tank, only to leave tons of litter and bottles of pee on the side of our once beautiful roads. There are no winners here except the tribes.
Tired of It

Posted - 5/17/2009 10:31:50 AM
More Indian crap??? We were taken from our land, beaten, raped, forced into slavery, tortured and killed. Should not the "brothers" get a casino. The Indians were just pushed from somwe land. Think about the "brothers" and sisters" out there.
Juan Dolio
New London, Ct.

Posted - 5/17/2009 9:31:41 AM
Sounds like deja vu all over again. When Pennsylvania started slot parlors it was the established Atlantic City casino operators who flocked there along with their customers. Now AC cries over spilled milk everyday because they blew a slot monopoly in the east.
Bendover, NJ

Posted - 5/17/2009 7:35:50 AM
If they have access to a $1.8 Billion line of credit, then why are we stopping the expansion at the current property leaving dozens of contractors and LOCAL construction workers hanging in the wind. I thought you guys were dedicated to Connecticut? You tell all of us you have no money, that BoA pulled your bonding saying you cannot afford to build this casino, but now all of a sudden a few months later you can afford to build one less than an hour away? I think you owe all these SE Connecticut folk an answer, because all I see is jibberish and lies.What are you going to do with those two brand new Cranes? Ship them to palmer and cover them in shrink wrap too?... Maybe you could also take some of that $1.8 Billion and finish construction on your already 50% complete Government center instead of letting it sit atop a hill and rott away. Just my opinion.
Adam P
Norwich, CT

Posted - 5/17/2009 7:23:35 AM
Yup. Hide the real agenda,so if it happens the people of Palmer Mass. wont ever realize it till it's too late. I think everyone from Palmer should drive through Norwich to see what their town might look like someday.I "Bet" they would be real impressed at what a rat hole it has become.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slots for Tots 2009

The infamous Slots for Tots video with a new ending to match the new year's political landscape.

Please promote this video!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No One Expects the Casino Opposition!

One of my treasured readers recently sent me a copy of an opinion piece from Banker and Tradesman magazine entitled "And They’re Off! Developers Looking To Cash In On Bay State Gambling Gamble", by none other than former Herald reporter Scott Van Voorhis.

The article is for subscribers only, so I can't link to it, and I don't think it would be right to re-print it in it's entirety here, but, in a nutshell, the piece is one long homage to expanded gambling - therefore heavy on inevitability, long on benefits, and short on costs.

And to listen to Van Voorhis, it would seem that casino investors are currently huddled around the Bay State looking toward any expansion of gambling with all the anticipation of a French mob waiting for the next head to meet la guillotine.

All this despite the recession, which Van Voorhis insists is only a flesh wound for the predatory gambling industry - preferring to ignore the looming potential for a casino bailout in Rhode Island in favor of waxing hopeful over
"a few states, like Pennsylvania, actually reporting rising revenue."
Van Voorhis, like many gambling visionaries, is an oracle. Reading the entrails of circling casino magnates and coal miners queued up at Keystone slot parlors, he portends that a future in gambling,
"could be just the right bet for our state’s beleaguered economy and battered state budget, with the potential for thousands of construction and permanent jobs and hundreds of millions in new revenue for cash-starved state coffers."
And raising this steely argument before the gods, Van Voorhis divines that those oppopsed to expanded gambling have become victims on the alter of their own religion, because it
"...also shatters the latest, trendy argument rolled out by anti-gambling moralists in their zeal to shut down the casino industry. Seizing upon the economic downturn that has hit the sector along with everyone else, gambling foes have tried to craft an argument that the rocky times are actually a sign that those poor, victimized casino customers have finally seen the light."
Hey listen, I take Van Voorhis's prophecies as seriously as I do any other oracle's - which is to say not at all - but let's take these tea leaves one by one.

First of all, "trendy argument"? Could this argument seem ... trendy... oh because of, say, the current "trend" where we observe casino credit drying up, construction projects coming to a halt, revenues leveling down, and pink slips being tendered - thanks to a recession driven by other do-no-wrong gambling-based industries of the last decade such as investment banking and risky mortage lending.

Trust me, "gambling foes" have no need to "craft" any argument along these lines. The argument isn't floating amorphously in some dark corner - it's standing in the middle of the room, solid, obvious and exposed, for anyone to extend their arm, snap a cell phone picture and send it to everyone in their address book.

But heck, don't take my word for it. Three days before Van Voorhis penned his column, Moody's downgraded the ratings on those other neighboring casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
Moody's Investors Service cut its credit ratings on the owners of two Connecticut casinos, saying weak gambling trends in that area will make it difficult for the tribes to reduce their debt in the near to medium term.

Ratings were cut further into junk territory on the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation, which runs Foxwoods Resort Casino, and Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
Moving on to the next tea leaf, I'll admit to being taken aback at being labeled a "anti-gambling moralist".

I've certainly never considered myself a "moralist". I mean, would a "moralist" do this to a picture of Mr. Van Voorhis? You tell me.

But would someone be considered a "moralist" if they opposed a plan to introduce a device that had been mechanically engineered to addict a certain percentage of it's users for the purpose of raising revenue in order to balance a State's budget? Or would they just understand right from wrong?

While Mr. Van Voorhis appears inclined to label opponents of predatory gambling as "moralists" - perhaps in an effort to undermine our motives as far too noble for the average overburdened taxpayer - the truth is, there are numerous reasons we oppose gambling.

And yes, some of them are about doing the right thing.

Many, but probably not most, oppose expanded gambling for religious reasons. Others do so out of concern for increased crime and social issues. Some folks can just do the math while more than a few simply don't buy into the marketing hype or promises of inevitability. Opposition from a certain percentage stems from painful personal experience. There are those who follow their social conscience while others just think we can do better. And naturally there are those who oppose it because they understand the industry all too well.

For most of us though, it's a combination of things.

A lot of it for me stems from my revulsion at how strongly these slot purveyors push this economic hallucinogen of fiscal salvation down our throats - and the people who buy it so easily. It's how weak I know our voices will become if we let these vampires cross the threshold. It's a boy who'll never know his dad so that the State of Rhode Island could raise revenue, bail out a casino and still have higher taxes.

But I for one believe that most people, if they really knew the facts about expanded gambling, would oppose it. (At least those not more concerned with padding political war chests.)

That's because you don't have to be a moralist to see that it's wrong. You just have to be not stupid.

Because let's face it - you can easily look at other States and see that slots and casinos create short term benefits that come along with unpleasant permanent costs - costs economical, cultural, and human.

You can easily review our State's august spending history and envision a massive gambling commission with hundreds of State employees collecting thousands of years worth of future pensions.

Your mind's eye can conceive of all that promised manna from heaven quickly absorbed into future budgets while additional slot parlors, casinos, addiction, crime and corruption scramble to keep up.

In his column, Mr. Van Voorhis notes that Harrah's Entertainment
"Led by former Harvard University business professor Gary Loveman"
has been busy courting our elected officials - while neglecting to mention how, at last year's Statehouse hearings, Rep. Conroy chewed Harrah's bliss-filled arguments into little tiny pieces of chum that he then tossed into the drink as a warning to the other predators.

Van Voorhis implies that gambling in Pennsylvania has been successful - while neglecting to bring up the fact that their "gaming" commission is riddled with corruption, has passed laws in the middle of the night and has had opposition members arrested.

Is that what we really want? Does even Mr. Van Voorhis want that? And could that most basic of understandings be the reason why our State has always eventually rejected expanded gambling?

When you average them out, should we expect the most or the least, from our officials? Or the public?

At least we know what to expect from casino proponents - it could be a bullet list.
  • Create a sense of inevitability.
  • Wave inordinately large amounts of money in front of our most vulnerable citizens - State legislators.
  • Inflate the numbers.
  • Employ union "influence".
  • Wheel out Clyde Barrows at least once a month to insist our State pockets are being picked by Connecticut casinos.
  • Blow off all casino opposition as bible thumping bleeding hearts without a clue as to how the big boys balance budgets. Employ copious eye rolling.
  • Avoid mentioning any associated costs. Deny them if necessary.
  • If this is not possible, and with a serious face, insist mitigation will contain any conceivable costs.
  • If discussing costs does become necessary, try to make such cost sound like a benefit (e.g. the beneficial stimulation effect of slot machine noise on otherwise shut-in seniors.)
  • Remember - it's not gambling, it's 'gaming' - but more importantly, it's always just "entertainment."
  • If these steps fail, return to step 1.
  • Rinse. Repeat.
I'm not the only one who sees it. I've been fighting this thing for two years now, and it's always the same.

The true variables in the equation, it would seem, are the economy, the legislative landscape and public opinion. But there's another that everyone seems to count out or forget - that dark horse known as grassroots resistance.

Two long years ago, I was just the woman in the room that nobody knew. An unlikely activist. I was quiet, but attentive, sitting there in the back, scribbling into my notebook. No one thought very much about me or expected anything from me.

But then... one expects the casino opposition!