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

Casino opponents are winning

When Middleborough’s town meeting approved the selectmen’s deal with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe last summer, there was an ominous context: Town officials were telling voters that the tribe would build a casino either with a deal or without one, and the town might as well get the best package it could.

That, indeed, is the most logical explanation for the fact that town meeting approved the deal, and then turned around and overwhelmingly voted “no” on an advisory question asking whether a casino should even be built in Middleborough.

Now Stephanie Vosk and George Brennan are reporting in the Cape Cod Times that the tribe continues to insist it has a right to build a casino in Massachusetts regardless of state law. As Vosk and Brennan note, it’s a position that state officials reject. Ultimately, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs will decide.

The Casino Facts blog goes into this in more depth. But the bottom line is that casino opponents should keep fighting. As Matt Viser writes in today’s Boston Globe, Gov. Deval Patrick is making little headway with a key legislative committee in his bid to saddle us with three casinos.

Opponents are winning. This is going nowhere. Even if the feds rule that the Mashpee can build a casino in defiance of state law, I would think opponents could keep it tied up in the courts for years to come. No one should feel intimidated by the alleged inevitability of casino gambling.

My last disclosure: Enough, already. Last month I was the guest speaker at a fundraising event in Middleborough sponsored by Middleborough is my hometown. My opposition to casino gambling is not a secret. I have neither taken money from nor donated money to anyone associated with this issue. From this point on, I’m traveling disclosure-free.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Talking casino gambling


We ain’t gonna play Sun City


  1. Aaron Read

    I dunno Dan, I’d keep including your standard disclosure on posts like these if you’re going to continue making posts that are, admittedly, nowhere near impartial. It’s a pain, but it strikes me that’s the price you pay for maintaining your status as a journalist.

  2. Anonymous

    The ink wasn’t dry on the Rapist’s signature when Scott Ferson was looking for state funding for the Route 44 improvements and Federal highway funds for the rest. The infrastructure dollars in the Agreement are WRONG and grossly understated. This entire endeavor has been based on lies. NO ONE, least of all well-funded international casino investors will build a BILLION dollar complex for BINGO. Let’s get real!Only SLOTS pay a 95% return to investors because they’re designed to make you SIT AND PLAY. You’re right! Opponents are winning based on the facts and loosing strategy. That’s why casino supporters are fighting so hard with their lies.This is on its way to defeat.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron: I’m an opinion journalist. When I write about politics, do I need to disclose that I’m a liberal? To me, a disclosure ought to signal that I have some material interest in the matter, and I don’t. I have an opinion, and when I write about the issue, I’ll ground my opinion in facts. That’s my implicit contract with readers on everything I write. I’m not sure how this is different.

  4. Steve

    Not being a journalist, I don’t really know the nuances of ethics here, but I think if you’re making money from supporters of one side or another, you should disclose. If you’re taking a political stand without remuneration for you or your family, there’s no disclosure necessary.Of course this only applies until you get big enough. Then it seems no disclosure is necessary. Andrea Mitchell never disclosed that her husband ran the Fed. James Carville doesn’t disclose he works for Hillary. Etc, Etc, Etc.BTW, Good headline in the Globe for casino detractors – “Casino jackpot went to investors”.

  5. carverchick

    The latest maneuver by the Tribe to try and force the State’s hand has only addded fuel to this chick’s fire. Casinos are not inevitable…this latest scare tactic does not change that.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: I think you have accurately summarized the standard. I express my opinion about all kinds of things here. I’ll give you a hypothetical that would present a problem. If Globe South or the Brockton Enterprise, for instance, gave me an assignment to cover a casino meeting of some sort and to write it up as a straight news story, that would be a conflict. But as long as I’m doing opinion journalism about the casino, I don’t think there’s a conflict. It’s reached a point where I’m not sure what it is I would disclose. That I oppose casino gambling? I already say that in every post that I write.

  7. Charles

    Hey Dan, Are you opposed to online gambling as well? It seems to me your position is very clear on the land based gambling in your hometown, but it’s not clear whether or not you condone online gambling (Live gambling too, like live roulette ..etc… Do you think regulation is a problem or the solution?

  8. Dan Kennedy

    I’m opposed to casino gambling in Massachusetts, not just Middleborough. Online gambling isn’t an issue that I care about one way or the other.

  9. Aaron Read

    Okay, I can see your point…and since I’m not a journalist, I’ll gladly defer to your judgment.However, I did think of something else worth asking even if it doesn’t really change the equation: your full-time job as a journalism professor for Northeastern University (that is your FT job, right?)Maybe that’s where my unease is coming from; I work directly for a college myself and it strikes me that if you’re going to teach impartiality, you have to practice it, too. Or this particular case, disclose it when you’re not being impartial.Again, maybe that doesn’t really matter here?

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron: I’m teaching good journalistic practices — or at least I hope I am. Opinion journalists are journalists, too. For us, the standard is not impartiality but independence. We talked about this in my freshman seminar class when the Carole Simpson thing came up. If I’m a journalist whose job it is to give my opinions, well, that doesn’t make me a lesser journalist than someone who writes straight news stories. There are some constraints, but they’re different from those with which straight news reporters deal.For instance, let’s say I write an opinion column for a daily newspaper — or, for that matter, write about politics and media for a paper like the Boston Phoenix (which I did for many years), where you’re expected to give your opinion. I’m certainly free to write nice things about politicians I like and nasty things about politicians I don’t like. What I’m not free to do is make campaign contributions, or endorse candidates, or even say whom I’m going to vote for.It’s a fine line, but it makes sense. If I write, for instance, that Barack Obama is the most impressive candidate running for president, well, I’ve certainly expressed a favorable opinion of him. But if he then does something I don’t like, and I’m intellectually honest, I’m free to write that, too.However, if I have publicly endorsed Obama, or given him money, or even just written that I’m going to vote for him, well, now I’m in the tank. And if he does something I don’t like, I’m going to be very tempted to explain it away rather than write that he’s made a mistake.In my case, I made one unpaid speaking appearance for And I can honestly say that if the pro-casino folks invite me to speak, I’ll accept their invitation, too. And I will tell them what I think.What I try to model for my students is how a good opinion journalist should behave. They know I’m a liberal. I do not tell them whom I’m going to vote for. I have brought conservative guest speakers into my class, including Jeff Jacoby and Jon Keller. And I bend over backwards to be respectful of all views and philosophies.And, by the way, I spent many years working as a straight news reporter, too. I know how to teach students to write fair and neutral stories. Modeling good behavior is not pretending we don’t have opinions. I’m sorry, but what do you think people talk about in newsrooms? No, it’s covering all sides of an issue and presenting them fairly, keeping your opinion out of your copy.

  11. Aaron Read

    Hmmm…okay, I think I see what you mean now. Yeah, it is a fine line – and I suspect it can be a maddeningly fine line at times. But you’re right; it makes sense.And yeah, it’s been several years since I’ve hung out in a newsroom. Maybe I’m glossing over the memories of those halcyon days in my youth (yeah right!) ;-)I think this explains why I was vaguely bothered by Jon Stewart freely admitting he was John Kerry’s…I believe the term used was “buttboy”…when he went on Crossfire and tore Tucker Carlson a new one. Admittedly, part of that was probably Stewart deftly taking the wind out of every desperate attack Carlson tried to mount. But it was still a stark endorsement from someone who is essentially an extreme version of an opinion journalist.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén