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

Gamble Deval’s way — or go to jail

Gov. Deval Patrick, who is trying to foist three gambling casinos on the state, wants to make it a criminal offense — punishable by up to two years in prison and a $25,000 fine — to place a bet over the Internet. Crime, traffic and the associated disruption caused by a casino coming to your town? No problem. Gambling in the privacy of your home? Problem.

“If you were cynical about it, you’d think that they’re trying to set up a monopoly for the casinos,” David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, tells the Boston Globe’s Matt Viser.

Well, by all means, let’s be cynical about it. What could this possibly be about other than making sure the state scoops up every available nickel produced by gambling?

Among other things, Patrick’s go-straight-to-jail provision has managed to alienate U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, who had spoken in favor of Patrick’s casino plan just recently. Frank tells the Globe, “Why is gambling in a casino OK and gambling on the Internet is not? He’s making a big mistake. He’s giving opponents an argument against him.” Nice work, Governor.

In two other casino-related developments, it appears that the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is moving backwards in its bid to build a casino in Middleborough.

First, Boston Herald reporter Scott Van Voorhis writes that federal regulators may move to take some of the allure out of the high-stakes video bingo parlors that Indian tribes are allowed to open even in the face of state opposition. The idea is that such bingo games would have to look more like bingo and less like slot machines. This could damage the argument advanced by some pro-casino forces that if Patrick’s proposal is defeated, the Mashpee will open a sort-of casino anyway.

Van Voorhis’ piece is a follow-up to a story first broken on Oct. 29 by George Brennan in the Cape Cod Times.

Second, tribal leaders have reportedly been talking out of both sides of their mouths on the matter of whether they will enter the Patrick sweepstakes or instead pursue their gambling plans under the federal route. Boston magazine’s Jason Schwartz explains.

The most recent version of my standard disclosure.

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  1. Anonymous

    This made me so mad, I had to go find a blog to comment on.Deval wants to impose harsh criminal penalties on gambling, which he obviously doesn’t believe is morally wrong. He rather wants to set up monopolies for his favored casinos.

  2. Anonymous

    Wow, hypocritical progressives. Who could have seen that coming?

  3. Anonymous

    Well, we certainly got conned big by this man.The last thing Massachusetts needs is another failed governor, but this is what we have, yet again. Maybe there will be an ambassadorship open somewhere after the 2008 election.

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you Dan,Some folks who act dumb, are as dumb as they look. I hope we have some “real” candidates for guv next time around. Deval is totally ridiculous.See you at the fundraiser in Middleboro.Thank you for donating your time.

  5. Mike from Norwell

    Dan, thought you should have put a link to Tom Keane’s piece in the Globe today: love it when something actually starts thinking down the pike on actions (the old “law of unintended consequences”). Of another matter, but following the same law, from the Globe’s business section today: careful what you wish for…

  6. Anonymous

    In terms of decision-making, Governor Patrick must be related to the Middleboro Selectmen….Dan, thanks for taking time to come to the event on Thursday, look forward to meeting you.

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