Email comments on the casino bill (2 Responses)

I’ve received almost 100 emails in the last 36 hours in response to my note about my opposition to the casino bill. Although the tally of these responses is over two to one in agreement with my opposition, there are a great many people whom I respect who disagree with me on this vote.

For me, the most powerful argument in favor of casinos is creation of construction jobs. Clearly, they would generate construction — no question about that. And right now the construction industry is in rough shape — lots of people out of work.

I’m unwilling to inflict permanent damage on the state to create jobs that will last a year or two. I also think that there are better ways to create construction jobs. We’ve done a lot to create green construction jobs — $750 million per year roughly going through utilities. Hopefully, that money will start to flow. I’m also a strong proponent of infrastructure redevelopment (and would support a gas tax increase to further that end).

I am skeptical about the permanent jobs and revenue arguments — that’s the stuff that tends not to stand up well to careful scrutiny. You have to look at all the offsets, lost jobs and lost revenue elsewhere, and the casinos get less attractive.

Below are excerpts from some of the emails that I received. I’ve divided them into two groups: Those to any extent uncertain or in favor of casinos (received 26). Second, those who wholeheartedly oppose any form of casinos (received 64).

First, excerpts from those to any extent uncertain or in favor of casinos:

Isn’t the state doing well with lottery ticket revenue? All of that is already in place. People get into trouble with gambling habits. Casinos make gambling all the more appealing. Of course a lot of people go to Casinos for special occasions and it is not an obsession leading to financial ruin of those individuals. Socially the commonwealth might need to incorporate some funding for our residents who need rehabilitation from habitual gambling. Then responding as a career hospitality worker, who is currently without employment, the jobs generated for Hotel and Restaurant staff would be welcomed by me.
——————————————————————
I actually do support the building of ‘destination casinos’, though not slot machines. I talk to lots of folks like in QUincy who go to COnn casinos to celebrate an event, spend a day there, not chronic gamblers. We are losing alot of revenue to Conn.!
——————————————————————
I would support some sort of compromise: Controlled, expanded gambling, that would expand jobs but also recognize
the social concerns of gambling. Unless the $ estimates are incorrect, MA citizens spent a lot of $ at gambling casinos outside the state.
So if expanded, legal gambling in MA would create jobs without serious social consequences, then I would support it.
——————————————————————
I know there are jobs here – but there are huge social costs. I know people go elsewhere to gamble but the closer they are they will probably gamble more often. It destroys many small businesses and artistic organizations. As much as I dislike casinos I bear with them as it is one way to compensate for what happened to the Native American population.
——————————————————————
No casinos, but let the horse track and what used to be dog tracks and let anybody in business buy a permit to have one or more, from the state, and let the slot machines run where they have purchased the “rights” to have one or more. The price is to be set on each machine by the sate. No freebies!
——————————————————————
I am still undecided about the introduction of casinos into Mass. I don’t like the idea of encouraging people/addicts to waste their money on a long term losing activity, but on the other I know several people who think taking a free bus trip to Mohegan Sun (or a free plane ride to Las Vegas) is a lot of fun. If New Hampshire goes ahead with its plan to build casinos near the Mass. border, most of our population will be within a two hour drive to a casino whether we build or not. I am most definitely opposed to adding slot machines to existing racetracks, however. That’s where the real addicts go! And to try to bring DeLeo’s bill to a vote in the House without a public hearing is an outrage.
——————————————————————
I’m not opposed to it, so long as it’s built as a “resort area.” For example in the Berkshires, or even Lakeville or 495, if it’s done like Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun was. Have concerts, bring in comedians-other attractions etc. I think adding slot machines to Suffolk Downs or just building a plain old casino in Fall River will just add to the crime rate in those areas.
——————————————————————
We need a source of revenue and casinos are a way to go Don’t pass your judgment of them on others. Why should the buses go to Foxwoods when we can have them here.
——————————————————————
I think you are making a big mistake, given the boost to the economy versus some fears you have about the downside of keeping the track open. It seems that the communities involved know whether or not they are willing to accept the risks and if they are willing to do so, we should respect their decisions. Yes, there are a few (1-3%) (my own research because I wanted to get my own feeling for statistics) of people who go to gaming places who have gambling problems and I believe that they are probably already finding an outlet for themselves.

Online gambling is already in place and thousands of people in MA. are already doing that, as well as playing games with very little chance of winning such as the lottery, Keno, and those already passing through our borders and spending their money in neighboring states, or Nevada or NJ. Not to mention those “clubs” that have underground gambling events. We have no control over those activities; if gambling were legalized Ma. would be in a much better position to monitor what’s going on.

No project is without its downside but the benefits versus the risks are so lopsided in favor of allowing tasteful, destination venues that will enhance our tourism, give millions of dollars back to the state . . .

In addition, while you said your district would not benefit much, I think that is flatly wrong, as millions of dollars into the state would go back to the towns. You are trying to legislate morality, it seems. People have to take some responsiblity for the choices they make. It feels like you have a knee jerk reaction to the issue without examining both sides.
Right now, people with gambling problems have no help for their issues. Allowing casinos in would allocate money for treatment programs.

You are trying to legislate morality. People have to take some responsiblity for the choices they make. It feels like you have a knee jerk reaction to the issue without examining both sides. Right now, people with gambling problems have NO HELP for their issues. Allowing casinos in would allocate money for treatment programs. I’m deliberately ignoring in all of this, is the tens of thousands of Ma. citizens who want gambling, who want to bring our state up to par with other states that have casinos. I’ve told you before the of the benefit the Harrod’s Casino and Racetrack has had (1 million back to the city last year) and more growth spurred by the arrival of the complex (a new professional national soccer stadium) to the city. Why don’t you call some of the officials there and get their feedback? I can help you with names. Why not find out what other cities’ experiences have been? . . .
——————————————————————
I guess I would rather have MA keep its gambling money than sending it to Connecticut or Las Vegas.
——————————————————————
We need jobs in Massachusetts. Casino implementation would create those jobs; that will have a “trickle down effect” of creating more ancillary jobs. If there is worry that this will create a higher crime rate, think about how continued unemployment would up the criminal activity.
——————————————————————
The introduction of casino gambling in MA is long overdue. Whether or not he proposal is the right approach, I don’t know. This state needs the economic stimulus that this gambling will provide. The gambling is going on now in surrounding states and beyond, by MA residents, so even if your opposition is on some moral grounds, I hope you will revisit your opposition.
——————————————————————
I could live with casino gambling destination resorts or whatever you call them. I am not a fan of slots in other locations having been in the . . . spa in the shadow of the . . . projects watching people who cannot afford it feed the Keno machines . . .
——————————————————————
I am strongly in favor of the Speakers bill.
——————————————————————
Definitely support the casinos coming into Massachusetts. There are bus loads of Massachusetss residents going to Connecticult and now Rhode Island and making those states richer on our buck. I know from many elderly family members who go at any chance they get they would never support you on this. We need the revenue if it is used CORRECTLY four towns and tax base. We are not in the minority on this. Give the people the choice to go to their own casinos, people who don’t want to go, DON’T HAVE TO.
——————————————————————
I grew up on the other side of the Connecticut. Some towns there never recovered from the Great Depression. If developed properly, a resort including casinos could provide meaningful employment and could boost ancillary businesses. This should be done carefully. I like Patrick’s idea of limiting it to one location as long as the location is clearly one where economic need is easily demonstrated. . . .
——————————————————————
I think it is silly to let all the gambling money go to Connecticut. Millions. Animal rights people killed Greyhound racing here and put 1000 people out of work. The casino and slot idea may make you queasy but people are going to gamble. They will leave their money in Mass. if there is something local or they will take it to Conn. Does anyone in this state still care about getting people employed?
——————————————————————
My view is that people will gamble and States should provide venues to satisfy that requirement. The practical aspect is that some of the money that is being bet on Red Sox, Bruins, March Madness and so on will filter through an established outlet and into the coffers. Like Belmont’s failed experiment with having a “dry town”, Massachusetts simply ought to get on board and provide a service that Massachusetts residents (some but not all) have long shown they want and will use.
——————————————————————
I don’t think that gamblong is the answer to all of our fiscal problems, but we need to face the reality that people gamble. BILLIONS of dollars are spent out of state between Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun and Twin River casinos. Let’s face facts, most people frequenting these casinos are day trippers. I think that we should examine all sources of revenue that do not involve raising fees or taxes. As long as there are services in place to provide outreach to people with compulsive gamling problems, I think that we need to be open to the possibility. I think that it is difficult to look askance at gambling when we have so many instant lottery game scratch tickets, which in my esitmation are much more addictive than casino gambling and target the people least able to afford gambling losses, but loose large amounts $1, $5,$10 at a time.
——————————————————————
Doesn’t seem to have destroyed the fabric of life in neighboring Connecticut
——————————————————————
i think its time for mass to get with it i dont gamble but any extra money the state can get from this would be better then letting it go to ct.
——————————————————————

Though, I am not farmiliar with Speaker DeLeo’s announced casino plans, I support the general concept of casinos in Massachusetts.
——————————————————————
First off, Massachusetts gamblers are going out of state, taking Massachusetts dollars out of state (revenue is being lost, right now) . . . gamblers are going to gamble, if its not out of state, than, it’s going to be money going to the mob. Neither, of which, supports the tax payers of Massachusetts. Not to mention, the jobs that would be available to Massachusetts tax payers. Wonderland Dog Track has closed, not a bad location for a casino??? However, the Devil is in the details. I believe the State should own the casinos. The State, for a percentage of the profit, hires professional gambling companies to manager the operation. Of course, there would have to be a gambling commission, with strict regulations. The State must own the casinos, corporate America can not/must not be allowed to come in and rip us off. I believe you are wrong in appossing casinos.
——————————————————————
I do not care for casinos much myself, and wish that there were other job-creating ventures as an alternative to them. But the hard realities are that these are the only business ventrues out there at the moment with investors lined up and ready to spend. In doing so they will create 1500- 2000 high- paying ( but ultimately temporary) construction jobs, and thousands more permanent service/ staff jobs.
——————————————————————
I think that casinos would keep valuable money from flowing out of Massachusetts into neighboring states and help cover some of the shortfalls in the states revenues, but I think there is a risk of attracting the criminal element and fostering corruption .
——————————————————————
I dislike gambling and casinos, but I often wonder if it might help SE MA – esp. New Bedford area

Second, excerpts from people wholeheartedly opposed to casinos

I agree with you strongly. Short term benefits, few good paying jobs in the long run, businesses suffer as well as thrive (depending on location). And don’t even talk about the unknown toll it quietly takes. I think I read somewhere one of the “worst jobs in the US” thing and casino workers were in the list for a number of reasons, including alcohol, burnout, dead end etc.
——————————————————————
Glad to hear you are voting against casinos. Much more sensible, on many levels, to invest in some kind of solid, sustainable, healthy economic activity.
——————————————————————
“I very much agree with your opposition. We don’t need to create another venue that will result in an addiction that destroys families and people’s lives. Saying the bill will provide treatment, if it does, is nowhere near enough–better not to create the problem in the first place.
——————————————————————
I am definitely against any casinos, slots or whatever being introduced in Massachusetts. The profits are funneled out of state, many of the employees of casinos (from what I’ve read) are not those in the state needing jobs, and gambling of this sort encourages a seamy, unhealthy atmosphere for, no less our kids, but adults as well. What does it say about Massachusetts, the state of many of the leading academic institutions and brains in the country. Ya Think?
——————————————————————
I think casinos are an awful way to make money. The jobs working in them wouldn’t be that great, and gambling can be very addictive- surely Mass can do better.
——————————————————————
Thank you for your consistency on this issue. My opinions are the same as before. This is essentially a drain on the Commonwealth. Whatever small amount of tax revenue and few jobs which will be generated from this proposal pales beside the exploitation of vulnerable individuals it will cause as well as opening the door to more criminal activity.
——————————————————————
As a psychiatrist who served in the military and had the opportunity to observe and treat the problems of addictive gambling, I am strongly opposed to the development of casinos. Thank you for your willingness to vote against the bill. Reliance for state income on the exploitation of an all-too-common vulnerability to problematic gambling is, in my opinion, ill-advised. Perhaps the medical dictum of “first, do no harm,” might be considered an appropriate watchword for legislators as well.”
——————————————————————
I totally agree with your view. Having casinos in Massachusetts is unlikely to solve our immediate or long term financial troubles, while creating additional burdens for individuals & society. Thanks for letting your contituents know where you stand. Stick with it.
——————————————————————
. . . [A]as part of your opposition, I urge you:

First, to point out all the positive assets Massachusetts has for short and long-term economic development and jobs with our various leading edge industries and resources, and the range of alternatives available short of casinos/slots to meet the very real economic and jobs crisis far more effectively and efficiently than casino fees/revenues.

Second, to draw heavily on your consumer protection and public protection expertise –and probe deeply the issue of why an independent cost-benefit study is not the first order of business (before legislative review, but at least as a condition of implementation), and whether the regulatory and enforcement framework in in place first, and with the full panoply of necessary teeth, including comprehensive white-collar and political corruption investigative and prosecutorial and punishment tools, independence, the power to enforce all the “promises/pledges/predictions, assurances” being made by the industry, its lobbyists and supporters, the necessary contract provisions for claw backs, restitution, transparency, disclosure, due diligence, and indemnifications, and fixed terms, subject to regular and de novo review, an explicit “sunset” provision in the legislation to permit a full and independent review, after the fact, and comprehensive ‘best practices’ in terms of consumer protection, addiction/problem gambling treatment, and explicit AG powers under 93A to enjoin, review and issue regulations.

As you know, THE FACT IS –if these are all in place and satisfied as a part of the legislation, I can almost guarantee that enthusiasm for the legislation will wane dramatically in the industry! They will inevitably seek to amend and water this down, relying on unenforceable promises, and try to ramrod it through, without debate, discussion or hearing. This proposal depends upon speed of enactment, limited or no debate and review, assurances that all problems are or will be addressed later, a priority public focus on upfront money, fees, pay-offs, and revenue to buy support, and leaving the “messy” details for later. In this arena, the “devil is in the details”!

And the other key FACT IS –the more people know about these proposals and what the real and viable alternatives are, the less they support the expansion of gambling as a necessary or even useful economic development asset in Massachusetts. . . .
——————————————————————
I learned exactly two things from studying Econ 101 (a forced-march 10 weeks through Samuelson’s 7th edition in 1973), and one of them was “the fallacy of composition”. That is, something that may benefit one person may end up benefiting no one if enough other people do it. (Kind of a variation, I guess, on the better-known “tragedy of the commons”.)

If every state in our Blessed Union embraces casino gambling… and revenues/attendance are flat in the venues where it’s already legal… the economic benefits claimed by the proponents lose more validity with each new casino that’s built. Will Massachusetts really claim all the purported revenue from Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun (CT), Twin River (RI), etc. that is touted–plus “untapped” gambling demand here at home, plus “destination” gambling from other parts of the country–at the level the proponents claim? And what are the existing casinos going to do about it, just let MA continue to grow at their expense?

Moral and social arguments aside–and they shouldn’t be, but everyone thinks we need to generate new revenue for the public sector, and fast–I just don’t buy the economics. From what little I know.
——————————————————————
I am definitely, wholeheartedly against allowing casinos in Massachusetts. They feed people’s baser natures, attract crime, and do not increase the productive good of society. Why they are legal at all is a mystery to me. They might bring in money, but that is not the greater good here.
——————————————————————
I’m glad you’re opposing this bill. If casinos are allowed in Massachusetts, especially in neighborhoods as opposed to out on the highway somewhere, then I can see so much room for terrible things happening in our state. We have friends who grew up just outside of Atlantic City before the casinos were built there. They know firsthand that the culture associated with casinos ruins neighborhoods and people’s lives. The neighborhoods surrounding Atlantic City were once flourishing with small businesses and decent schools, but the casinos brought with them crime, violence, rampant alcoholism and a very serious problem of gambling addiction.

I used to work with a woman who went to Atlantic City with her boyfriend for a weekend. I’ll never forget that between them, they lost $35,000 on their credit cards. That’s thirty-five thousand dollars in credit card debt for decades, and for nothing! . . . Nice people who got so caught up in gambling that they completely lost sight of the reality that eventually came back to haunt them. I’m sure they are not alone.

People say that we have no one to blame but ourselves when we feed our addictions, and that may be true to a point. I don’t gamble, but the few times I’ve used slot machines just for fun (and lost), I know how it feels to want to play just one more time to hit the big one. Why make it easier for our young men and women and adults to gamble their lives away?
. . .
——————————————————————
I am against casinos as I do not think it is healthy to go to a smoke filled room without clocks for hours in hope that one might win big. I also fear for the poor who may see it as a hope and for those who do not gamble extra money or who gamble without a limit.
——————————————————————
I strongly agree with your opposition to casinos in Mass (or anywhere else, for that matter). They raise money for the state (and the gambling industry) under the guise of a “voluntary” activity that nonetheless misleads and exploits its participants – often those least able to afford it and sometimes afflicted with addiction. Of course the same applies to the state Lottery – a regressive and misleading tax that is a black mark on the state’s name. The fig leaf of “allocating” the proceeds to local aid is just another way in which it misleads. I value individual freedoms enough that I would stop short of banning gambling entirely, but certainly the state should not be involved in encouraging and organizing such a socially harmful activity.
——————————————————————
Thank you for you opposition to the casino bill. I fully support your position on this issue. This is a financial fix that would do more harm than good and has been oversold by its supporters. Setting aside the moral issue of financing our government off those citizens least able to afford it, we are already seeing the limits of casino revenues in surrounding states. Newer facilities simply draw off money from older sites.
——————————————————————
I strongly agree with your vote against casino gambling. Here are my main reasons: 1) It is a regressive tax, as is the Lottery which I also oppose. 2) it supports the frame of mind that tends to make one dependent upon “fate” and “luck” rather than effort. This undermines society in a deep and damaging manner.
——————————————————————
. . . the process for granting any gambling licenses has the potential to become corrupt unless such licenses are auctioned off to the highest bidder in a fair auction. The press certainly has already indicated that the current process may benefit certain parties without maximizing the value to the tax payers.
——————————————————————
I am opposed to opening casinos on principal; they are a “can’t win” game that take money away from those that can least afford it. It is not a matter of “people are going to gamble anyhow so they might as well do it here.” If gambling is made more accessible, people who already gamble will gamble more, and people who didn’t gamble before will start.
——————————————————————
Good morning will. I am with you on this one. Most of the people that visit casinos are the one that can least afford it. Gambling is addictive as it produces a high.
——————————————————————
I am dead set against casinos. They create social problems. They also put the state in the business of exploiting people and encouraging reckless behavior. They are a gutless response of people too afraid to raise taxes or cut spending. Thank you for your opposition to what can only be described as evil (and I hardly ever use that word).
——————————————————————
I agree with you and think that the social costs- lost productivity, domestic violence, bankruptcy, court and other costs to the gamblers (who usually lose) and to their families- are enormous, and far out weigh the few hundred permanent jobs that might result from building even one casino. It’s absolutely crazy if these cumulative costs are not considered carefully at the outset. I hope they also realize that the number of anticipated gamblers would only be a fraction of those who habitually go to CT or elsewhere. This is a prime example of the willingness to pass something that creates a problem- and it highlights the idiocy of not passing basic legislation that can actually solve problems!!!
——————————————————————
I like your analysis–expanding the gaming industry is not smart growth.
——————————————————————
I don’t like them either, Will. I was especially taken by a story that I saw on TV, or read, about the impact on the neighboring town to Foxwoods. The town that Foxwoods is in gets a huge amount of tax money, but the town next door where the employees live, has acquired a lot of people who don’t have much money, a lot of kids in the schools, a lot of social problems — and no tax bonanza. That is a huge negative.
——————————————————————
I am opposed to casinos. They suck money out of the economy and send it away. It is a nonproductive activity, so it must be economically negative. The only way it can be positive is if it were to mostly take money out of someone else’s economy — say we in Massachusetts owned a casino in Mexico. Further, would it be archaic to point out that teaching people gains are to be had by speculation rather than by effort
and industry might not be sound?
——————————————————————
I totally agree with you. They are sources of corruption to local communities, they support gaming addictions, and the companies who manage them, among other things, they oppose unionization, and are adept at extracting fees from the enterprises they manage.

Please note, this thread is not open for comment at this time.

    {"widget_type":"comment_query","include_string":3724,"exclude_string":"","page":0,"query_type":"","supplemental_filter":""}

    Looking for something you can’t find?

    Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly for assistance!

    Powered by open source software: LAMP, WordPress, Plugins include: Akismet, TablePress, Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. Graphic Design by Jane Winsor. Development of Responsive Tabs Theme by Will Brownsberger. Hosted by Inmotion Hosting. Hosting paid for by the Brownsberger Commitee.

    Welcome!

    WillBrownsberger.com is a conversation:

    • You can comment on any post this site.
    • You can post your own new subjects on this site.
    • You do not need a password.
    • I absolutely depend on your feedback.

    You can subscribe at this link for occasional email news from this site

    Will Brownsberger
    State Senator
    2d Suffolk and Middlesex District