By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

More reasons to reject the casino

Is State Treasurer Tim Cahill a friend of the Ku Klux Klan? No doubt his opposition to the casino in Middleborough will be cast by proponents as biased, given that Cahill wants the state to build its own casino. But Cahill’s assessment that the casino would be a bad deal for the town — reported in today’s Globe by Andrea Estes — should be taken seriously. Cahill tells Estes:

It will change the entire fabric of the community, but it’s the tribe and the investors who will make the lion’s share of the money. There are a lot of holes in the agreement. I don’t see where it helps the town financially.

Is the Middleboro Casino Gambling Study Committee a friend of the Ku Klux Klan? According to the Herald’s Mike Underwood, the committee has concluded that a casino could “increase suicides, bankruptcies and trigger an exodus of residents,” as well as lead to choking traffic increases on Route 44.

Oh, but there’s good news, too — there would likely be no “direct” increase in crime as a result of the casino’s being built. Never mind that there would be a huge indirect increase, as documented by the Globe last Sunday in a report on what happened to the communities around Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Are officials from 15 cities and towns surrounding Middleborough friends of the Ku Klux Klan? Theresa Knapp Enos reports in the Enterprise of Brockton that those officials will meet tonight in Lakeville to discuss the impact of the casino in their communities. Of course, they don’t get to vote in the Saturday town meeting. Enos writes:

[Bridgewater] Selectman Mark Oliari, Bridgewater’s liaison with the town of Middleboro, reported to fellow board members at the selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday that there are “serious issues,” such as traffic, decreased local aid from Lottery receipts and additional school resources.

Think about it. The Lottery is going to take a terrible hit if casino gambling comes to Massachusetts (which is why Cahill wants the state to grab a piece of the action). Traffic will become a nightmare throughout the region, but the Wampanoags propose only to upgrade roads in Middleborough. And, of course, the low-paid casino workers who would move to the area will put a strain on school systems throughout the region, not just in Middleborough.

This is a disaster in the making. As Sabutai writes at Blue Mass Group: “I’m not sure if I’m naive to hope that the state government would not greenlight a massive project within a town where the residents offered a resounding ‘no’, but I’d hope that a ‘no’ on Saturday will end the debate in this town at least. New Bedford and Boston would looooove a casino. Wouldn’t you rather work with people who want you?”

I’ll be debating the casino today at 7 p.m. on New England Cable News’ “NewsNight.”

D’oh! The Enterprise was previewing a meeting that has already taken place. Here’s an account in today’s Globe, by Christine Wallgren. Great quote from Halifax Selectman John Bruno about Middleborough Selectman Adam Bond, a casino supporter: “I appreciate Mr. Bond’s attempt to help his community, but I also appreciate that selling your soul for money is never a good idea. This does not belong in Southeastern Massachusetts.”

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Examining the New England News Forum


  1. Peter Porcupine

    I’ve been listening to the anti-Middleboro casino forces, and I’m underwhelmed. Cape Cod is a virtual Foxwoods adjunct, with bus coaches leaving daily from the various senior ceters to CT. Somehow, this has become an entertainment of choice for the Greatest Generation, and we are exporting funds by the wheelbarrow load to out of state.In listening to Steve Bailey and Tom Menino wail (to say nothing of former Rep. George Rogers!), what is KILLING them is that this is a rural deal that the corridors of power cannot completely control in their back rooms. REAL people! On a FOOTBALL field! In broad DAYLIGHT! HOW declasse! You said it yourself, Dan – Cahill has no moral objection to gambling (as we might, as fellow former Scout leaders) – no, his concern is that BOSTON doesn’t get a big enough share!Why not New Beige or Boston? Because the casino would be established under the Federal Indian Gaming Law, which requires such a facility be within 50 miles of tribal lands. That’s WHY Middleboro was chosen for land purchase – conincidently, the purchase of that land by the tribe was what settled all the lawsuits against the Town of Mashpee by the tribe for encroachment, which allowed for the development of New Seabury (wanna give THAT back?).Which brings me to a final point – the PURPOSE of the Indian Gaming Act is RECOMPENSE for all the broken treaties and money which the US owes the Native Americans. THAT is why, as Bailey puts it, a ‘mere 1,400 people’ who belong to the tribe get this lucrative benefit.It’s to pay them back for stealing Boston from them in the first place.

  2. mike_b1

    Dan, when assessing increases in crime (or anything, for that matter), please be sure to distinguish between changes in incidents and per capita rates. When the population increases — as the Globe correctly noted (somewhat surprisingly, I might add) in its Sunday article — the number of incidents is bound to rise. But the important number to look at is the ratio (e.g., number of incidents per 1000 people, or whatever metric you want to use). To ignore that would be to distort the outcome.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: No, you’re exactly wrong. The issue here is will crime and police activity go up in Middleborough if the casino is built. The answer is yes, by quite a bit. This is true even if the per capita crime rate goes down. I’m not a statistical ignoramus, and I understand what you’re saying. Crime in Middleborough will go up not because people visiting the casino are less law-abiding than other folks. It will go up because there will be so damn many of them. More people, more crime, more police needed. That’s the whole point.

  4. Berto

    Hi Dan,I love your passion, but I think you may have gotten carried away here a bit. In particular, it seems like you cherry-picked some details from a Herald story about the Middleboro Casion Gambling Study Committee without mentioning the report’s overal positive tone.Also, a Globe editorial puts the lottery revenue decrease at 5 to 8%, which isn’t terrible, to say the least. A good deal between the tribe and the state makes up that lost revenue and likely earned more cash for the state coffers. You keep citing the Sunday Globe’s report on crime in the CT casino towns, but I think that only bolsters the idea that you’ll want more cops in town. The Ledyard numbers in the Globe’s graphic show a small decrease in vehicle arrests, and a increase from a negligibe 6 drug arrests in 1994 to 21 arrests in 2006. That’s less then two drug-related arrests a month. It’s Montville that shows more larger increases in these categories. The increase is undenbiable but it’s possible to account for that with other variables.I live in Revere and I support casinos in Massachusetts, including building one at Suffolk Downs (a third of which is in Revere). Obviously, the character of Revere/Orient Heights is different than that of Middleboro, so I won’t draw a direct comparison. But my take is that Middleboro needs to drive the numbers up on their deal rather than try and scuttle the plan altogether.At what point can the Wampanoag throw up their hands and turn to the Department of Interior to help facilitate a deal? At that point, everything becomes adversarial and the DoI’s past rulings show that things generally break the tribe’s way in those cases. If ths thing is inevitable, and it certainly appears that way, then maybe Middleboro should vote down the current deal and negotiate a better one. But they shouldn’t shut down the idea entirely.

  5. mike_b1

    *sigh*I wrote: “When the population increases — as the Globe correctly noted (somewhat surprisingly, I might add) in its Sunday article — the number of incidents is bound to rise.”Please take a remedial reading class. You said the same thing I did.Where we disagree — I guess — is which number is the important one. If the population and number of crimes (i.e., the crime rate) increase proportionally, the chances any random individual would be directly affected by a crime wouldn’t change.

  6. endangered coffee

    I agree with you Dan, except, sadly, I think there is support for the casino in Middleboro where may people have dollar signs in front of their eyes.But, as a great sage once said (I believe it was one of the Wayans brothers) Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I didn’t say that you got anything factually wrong. I said you were making the wrong analysis. More crime in town is more crime in town.Berto: Of course I cherry-picked the Herald story, but I also linked to it. Besides, you’ve got to love a study that finds suicides will go up, property values will fall (at least in the short term), and traffic will be horrendous, yet overall the casino will be wonderful because of all that green stuff.

  8. Anonymous

    Dan, I need your help. I can’t find a couple of posts on your blog:- The one where you wrote about the need for a new police station in Middleboro that is house in an old dilapidated 200+year old building and other pressing infrastructure needs in a town with limited income streams and no real prospects of a windfall or TLC from Beacon Hill. That was interesting and I would like to read it again.-I am also looking for the post where you said that you never left Middleboro and actually went back to settle your own family and contributed to its tax base, thus entitling you to have a say on what is good for their finances and not, unlike other people that say live on the North Shore or Danvers and have no direct stake anymore.Those two posts, Dan were very crucial to this discussion and I can’t find them anymore. So if you can help…In the meantime, after all the ellitist feathers have settled, let’s remind ourselves of a couple points:- Gambling is here to stay. It is not only as American as Apple Pie, but is a human indulgence, for better or worse. Consider it a weakness, a vice, a get-quick-rich scam or smart move, whatever you wish. It is legal nonetheless and sanctioned by state and federal law. Beyond that, it is a hard-to-replace income stream be it lotteries or Casinos or non-rpofit fundraiser raffles, you pick. Vegas is the fastest growing city and a huge draw for small businesses that have nothing to do with gmabling.- Mass loses HUMDREDS of millions in after-tax disposable income driving its way to RI, CT, Atlantic City and Vegas. None of the posturing is going to stop that. Might as well keep a good chunk of it here. Be careful of NOT dismissing this as it is the MAIN reason why casinos should happen. – if you have less legal ways to gamble, people will use illegal bookies and encourage mob-related illegal activity.- Many casinos that are modern well run coprorations are good citizens and will be wary of making it environmetally palatable and will pour money for local roads, policing and housing, through their payrolls mainly for the latter. Foxwoods it seems is not a dump and is hidden behind tress, Casinos in Vegas are anything but dumpy. Monaco casinos aren’t dumpy. HongKong’s aren’t dumpy. Macao used to be a trouble spot but it cleaned up marvelously after it used to be a crime hub under Portuguese rule. I am not sure why people are forcing us to picture a Mass casino being some sort of seedy parlor?(Disclosure: I have not visited any casinos in my life (hope to) and rely solely on videos and pictures and second-hand reports. If either Foxwoods or Mohegan isn’t nice, correct me, please.) – Casinos in Mass ARE GOING TO HAPPEN , no matter WHAT. This Sovereign independence is making sure it will so might as well manage it right and work with these tribes so that the state actually benefits and helps plan it.- This is very reminiscent of Cape Winds: SOmething with an obvious benefit with some downside but we can’t shake off the Nimbys and ellitists and self-centered so called advocates. If we had authorized the Turbines when they were offered, we would have had generated SO MUCH power already and impact on easthetics, fisherman, navigation would have been slim to none and resolved already. But moret han a decade after, we are still at each others throat. It’s almost like Jealousy, not allowing a private company profit from a public space for the greater good. SO waht? You want some socialist govt agency to run it? These opposition arguments would make a sleazy Stossel sound like a genius with another: “Give me a break!”N.

  9. endangered coffee

    Here’s the deal, N. For me, it’s not just NIMBY, it’s not in anyone’s backyard. If we use your argument that if there aren’t legal places to gamble, people will gambe illegally could also be used for drugs, prostitution, pitbull fighting, etc.On the other hand, this seems like pretty much a done deal, no matter how much we blather for and against here and elsewhere, so I do hope that the facility is clean, modern, well-run, and all that.

  10. mike_b1

    More crime in town is more crime in town.The key issue isn’t how many crimes there are, it’s about the odds of you being affected by one.Speaking of which, the notion that small towns inherently have less crime than do cities has been put to the of late test in Canada:, I’m against casinos. But let’s use the right data to support the argument.

  11. Man who thinks casinos suck

    N. – go visit Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods; they’re glitzy but they’re not really “nice”. It’s rather over-the-top most of the time; Vegas is the same way. (speaking of which, get anywhere off the Strip and the casinos there are often VERY dumpy)Anyways, if you go, ignore the casino itself for a while and watch the people for a while. You won’t have to wait long to catch the overwhelming smell of despair and desperation. It’s NOTHING like those “wonder of it all” ads, mostly it’s people bleeding away money they can’t afford to gamble, feverishly hoping they’ll finally hit that big score.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    The key issue isn’t how many crimes there are, it’s about the odds of you being affected by one.No. If more crimes are committed in your town, then the quality of your life is negatively affected, even if the odds of your personally becoming a victim stay the same.Part of it is perception. Part of it is having to hire more police officers, build a bigger police station, lock up more people on the weekends, etc.

  13. James

    More crime is more crime. Period. Interestingly enough, those per capita numbers may not be all that correct afterall. According to the head of Ledyard police, there are less arrests & less prosecution per capita, but only as a result of down-sized (relatively) law enforcement due to strained municipal finances – because of, you guessed it, the CASINO! The actual number of CALLS for emergency response have spiked, however the police are just understaffed and prioritize those that they do respond to. For instance, 10 calls, 2 cops; less crime per capita STATISTICS. Not less crime per capita. Put that in the number book…BTW Dan, you were great on Newsnight!

  14. mike_b1

    Dan, to follow your logic, Myra, Ill., which has never recorded a crime, is probably the best place in the world to live. It also has a population of four (all in the same family). Few people would agree.As for what james writes, so Ledyard cops don’t always get to respond to all the calls. Well, that makes Ledyard like any other municipality (sans Myra, Ill., of course). Police don’t get to pick and choose when activity ramps. Prioritization goes with the territory.

  15. Anonymous

    Thank you Peter Porcupine for that. As a Native American living in Massachusetts, I feel the spate of negative coverage is once again because the land, ownership and profits will be given to one of the smallest minority groups in the country. The people of Massachusetts who can’t handle not having a bit of the pie are thus going nuts.Get over it. You’ll be the first ones there looking for “new entertainment” on a Saturday evening once your stubborness wears away.This is one of the few ways a tribe in this country can make money for their people. On reservations, its absolutely essential. In those cases, all negative aspects like crime and suicide lay on the Natives themselves, since barely anyone other than Natives actually venture onto reservation land. I think its high time people focus on other issues instead of continually bringing down a people who already have little to nothing left.

  16. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I see you haven’t lost your propensity to follow logic right off a cliff. Even a math-challenged journalist like me knows that when a sample size is too small, then statistics cease to be meaningful.

  17. mike_b1

    Fine. Then explain this: There were 491,000 crimes reported in NYC in 2005 (that’s just 100,000 fewer crimes than Boston has people). Yet folks there say the city has never been more livable. Why?

  18. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: According to this, there were 250,630 crimes reported in New York in 2002. Unless we’ve got some apples-and-oranges thing going on, I’d say New York was a hell of a lot more livable in 2002 than in 2005. But I digress. Do I really need to point out the enormous drop in crime in New York from the mid-1980s to today? As I said in an earlier comment, perception’s got a lot to do with this. New York has been getting dramatically safer, so people naturally feel safer. If a casino comes to Middleborough, the town will get more dangerous.

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