If you haven’t seen it, I want to call your attention to a terrific story on the front page of today’s Boston Globe about the effects of casino gambling. According to reporter Stephen Smith, the rate of gambling addiction is twice as high as it would otherwise be among people who live within 50 miles of a casino. Smith writes:
Psychiatrists and compulsive behavior specialists have shown that gambling can turn addictive in much the same way that alcohol or illicit drugs do, through a process in which the brain causes the dependence and then is damaged by it. Gamblers can be treated — with counseling, medication, and 12-step programs — but success is far from guaranteed. A year after entering treatment, studies suggest, about half of gamblers return to the slots and gaming tables.
How many times have you heard casino proponents say that people are going to gamble anyway, and that Massachusetts might as well benefit from the tax revenue that’s now going to Connecticut? In case there was any doubt, now we know: That’s less than a half-truth.
And look at where our population centers are. If Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan for casinos in Western Massachusetts, Southeastern Massachusetts and north of Boston comes to pass, then at least two-thirds of state residents — maybe more — will be within 50 miles of a casino.
Over at Blue Mass. Group, Charley Blandy links to a Boston Business Journal editorial that’s dripping with disdain for Patrick’s view that building casinos equals economic development. My favorite line: “We now have a governor who defends a major policy initiative on the basis that it won’t be ‘the end of civilization.’ What an endorsement for setting the stage for ruining more lives to gambling.”