Behind the pro-casino propaganda

The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald today are atwitter with excitement over surveys showing that support for casino gambling is on the rise. With the new Massachusetts House speaker, Robert DeLeo, in favor of expanded gambling, it looks like Gov. Deval Patrick is going to renew his ill-considered push to impose this blight on the state.

So leave it to Jon Keller of WBZ-TV (Channel 4) to dig a bit deeper into one of those surveys, put out by UMass Boston, which supposedly shows that casinos create better jobs for non-college-educated workers than other businesses.

Keller finds that the study was funded by construction-industry contractors and executives, who would stand to profit mightily from building casinos. The study also fails to mention the inconvenient fact that the huge “resort casinos” favored by Patrick are now cratering and shedding jobs. Keller writes:

Let’s face it, folks, casinos have been sleazy but lucrative money pits in the past and they may be again, but they are not anything close to a valid answer to the prayers of the working class.

The only kind of survey that matters is the one that asks people if they want a casino built in their community. Last I checked, two-thirds of Massachusetts residents are opposed. That’s not likely to change.

You’d never know it from reading the Globe, but even Middleborough residents voted overwhelmingly against a casino on the one occasion they were given a chance to express their views.

This is a loser, and Patrick’s obsession with staking his governorship on it is appalling.

20 thoughts on “Behind the pro-casino propaganda

  1. Bellicose Bumpkin

    Funded by construction interests?… I wish I’d said that.Beyond the obvious problems with the funding, this study reads like a propaganda campaign for Patrick’s casino legislation and union casino jobs.

  2. NewsHound

    If a casino operated without any costs it would, at best, be economically neutral. However, with all of the overhead costs, plus return on capital, plus the associated costs of transportation, any casino is a negative to the productivity and quality of life in any civilization by any class, rich or poor. It is amazing how one of the major concerns in our society is meeting the demands of the cost of health care when we can just throw money down the casino rat hole, and subsidize a whole bunch of sleazes to gain exorbitant lazy profits. Our economy by no means, and quality of living amongst many, can not begin to afford or allow anything to support additional dysfunction into our civilization. Casinos make no positive contribution.

  3. James

    Is the problem casinos, or gambling? It seems to me that they’re two separate issues. Personally, I’d support people’s right to gamble if most of the profits went to the state (like the lottery), or if it were a competitive market (like every other form of entertainment in the state); the problem I see with the casinos is that we’re granting monopoly power to whichever company has the best lobbyists.Dan, is your opposition to the casino plan specific to this process (a few lobbyists greasing the right wheels), to casinos themselves (traffic at all hours, eyesore, etc), or to gambling generally?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    James: I’m opposed to casinos, I’m opposed to gambling, and I’m opposed to casino gambling. Clear enough?

  5. O-FISH-L

    A far better headline would be “Behind the anti-casino vote.”The money behind Foxwoods and Mohegan make Cognos and Ace Ticket look like lemon aid stands. Is there any reason to doubt that Sal DiMasi’s supposed “passion” against casinos in Mass. emerged for reasons other than his “passion” for Cognos and ticket brokers? Is anyone investigating? I mean really.Gay marriage, unlimited abortion and pot smoking in every city and town in the state, but the immoral spin of the roulette wheel? Not within 100 miles of Boston. Nothing on the level, everything a deal, no deal too small.

  6. James

    Dan: My comment isn’t out of the blue. Many gambling addiction experts regard day trading as one of the most dangerous forms of gambling, precisely because people often don’t realize they’re gambling until everything is gone. (e.g. this)Not every blog commenter is looking to flame you, Dan. Some of us are actually interested in finding out how you feel about particular issues. You’re one of the most prominent voices in the anti-casino movement, and by hammering how shady everyone involved in the potential MA casino deals is, you’ve certainly convinced me that this is a bad deal. It’s just been a while since you’ve presented any anti-casino argument beyond, “Everyone involved is a crook and/or liar.”You’re also one of the best-known media critics in Boston. On Sunday, Etrade ran a super bowl ad essentially selling day trading as the easy solution to our economic woes. As someone attuned to gambling and the media, this seemed right in your wheelhouse.

  7. Jacquie

    Dan,I agree with you 101% but would like to add that it’s predatory gambling, preying on the most vulnerable population.In regards to day trading, with all due respect to the poster, if you decide to day trade it will not directly affect my life. The lottery? I don’t buy any tickets. However, shove a 5 star mega resort casino within a 1/4 mile of my home and then tell me that I have to like it…and I’m going to have a problem with it. I don’t have to step one foot in that casino and I will be affected by it DAILY- 50,000 cars a day, drunk drivers 24/7- no thank you.When I started this fight I was a NIMBY, but do some research and come to your own conclusions. You’ll soon realize how devastating casinos are to people, communities, local businesses etc.I don’t want to see casinos in Mass at all. Deval preaches the magical 4 letter word J-O-B-S , knowingly hiding behind the true devastatation of casinos. Why? Becaue Deval only cares about the $$$$ and not the people he is representing. Sort of a familiar theme that the Middleboro residents are getting from their own selectmen.So Dan, your other commenters should not present an argument unless they’ve been well informed- they seriously need to do some research.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    James: I was at a Super Bowl party, but I was out back, eating all the food. I missed the ads, but I scored lots of ham.I can’t care about everything. Hell, I can’t care about many things. And I don’t care about day trading.

  9. Carl

    The jobs these pols are really creating are the new jobs in the expanded gaming commission and the one at the lobbyist firms the pols will take when they leave office.Now that is job creation at its premium!

  10. Neil

    My sister lives a few miles from the Sandia Casino in Albuquerque. Maybe it’s because there’s more elbow room out there, but there’s little community opposition to the casino as far as I could tell in my visits there, and the area is quite beautiful. No massive traffic headaches. Not that that’s much of a data point, but it’s obvious that the casino hasn’t amounted to “devastation” for locals, who were once among the poorest people in the nation. I think James’ distinction between casinos and gambling is useful. The latter is a “vice” in the old-timey sense–some people cannot resist its lure, like whisky. That some people can’t hold their liquor isn’t enough reason to make it illegal though, because as a society we favor the notion of personal responsibility over nanny-statism. Right?Seems to me effective resistance should spring from case-by-case objection to the particulars–where exactly, how big, will it create more jobs than the strain on the local community etc, rather than to general objection to the vice of gambling (its “devastating” effects), or the crookedness of its proponents. Also, kneejerk reaction to anything an opponent says on the basis that said opponent is a crook, is indicative to me that the arguments on merit are weak. That goes for both sides. In other words dismissing Study X, because it was funded by crooks, doesn’t refute Study X, because there’s such an abundance of crooks (persons with skin in the game, as it were) on both sides of the issue that pointing them out (behold–pigeons!) doesn’t prove anything.I wouldn’t mind seeing a casino on the old Building 19 7/8ths site in Lynn. IMBY is okay. What’s a little more congestion to the perennially-beleagered near north cities. I bet Lynn would gladly live with more traffic, for more jobs. Now that Eastie’s full of runways, and there’s no room in Winthrop or Revere (though Wonderland, hmm…), Lynn’s next. Let the NIMBYs stick to their rustic leafy burbs, and sneak in to the City of Sin when nanny’s not looking, for a bit of illicit fun.

  11. Jacquie

    Neil,Ever hear of Natasha Schull, the MIT professor who has spent her career studying slots? Please view these 2 sites. The simplicity of your answer is mindboggling and is a direct reflection of the lack of knowledge regarding casinos.http://bellicose-bumpkin.blogspot.com/search/label/schull http://gladyskravitz.blogspot.com/2009/02/reality-bytes.html Do some research. This is PREDATORY gambling that we are talking about. It is not harmless. The investors want to you to think it’s harmless and gloss over the predatory gambling with works like “5 star resort” , entertainment. Put a casino in Lynn? Heck, those people don’t know any better, right? They’d be glad to have all of the traffic, corruption and gambling addiciton that casinos create- Hey- they want the J-O-B-S. Who cares about the stress on marriages, families and children? It’s only Lynn.Where do you live Neil? Why not your town?Many of us who have been fighting this battle for 2 years are NO CASINOS in Mass. Why? Because we did some research and casinos ruin lives.

  12. Neil

    Jacquie sure, the only possible reasons a person might not oppose casinos are, that they have not done as much research as you have, or that they are crooks. I’m sure there’s a fancy Latin term for this, but in English I call it “argument by you suck”. People with equal amounts of understanding about an issue can disagree in good faith. I live in Lynn thus, “IMBY is okay”.

  13. Jacquie

    Be careful what you wish for, because it may happen. Then talk to me in a few years. Contact Nichols Mullane the selectman in North Stonington for 20 years, who lives next to Foxwoods- and here what he has to say about what Foxwoods has done to his community.I disagree that you have “equal amounts of understanding about the issue”. THis isn’t about doing as much research as I have- this is about doing some objective research AT ALL . I’ve heard the words “good faith” before, oh yeah…out of the words from Glenn Marshall, the convicted rapist, former Chairman of the Wampanoag tribe.Good faith? ‘ben there, done that…,no thank you.

  14. Neil

    Jacquie I don’t presume to compare my level of understanding on the issue with yours. You don’t know how much “objective” research I have done. My point is that in general, claiming those who disagree with you on some topic (any topic) do so because they haven’t done as much research as you have, is not an argument. Surely it is reasonable to acknowledge that it’s possible for people of good faith to come to different conclusions. This is a fundamental principle of a civilized society for heaven’s sakes.That link to the video produced by Casino Free Mass, whose stated agenda is to oppose legalized gambling casinos in MA, doesn’t even make a pretense of objectivity. It surely tugs at the heartstrings. Which, fair enough, but it’s not an example of “objective research”.Here’s the overview of a study from the Rappaport Institute at Harvard. They don’t start out trying to support a pre-conceived conclusion. They lay out their research methodology, and come to a measured conclusion that probably disappoints partisans on both sides. Plenty of so-called research is agenda-driven crap, of course. The most reliable place to look for neutral research would seem to be in academia. As for Glenn Marshall, next time you’re doing research check out common logical fallacies, this one in particular.

  15. Nial Liszt

    Neil-That waterfront area in Lynn is almost perfect for a casino site. The only neighbors are the fish in Lynn Harbor and the General Electric plant. The Blue Line currently terminates a straight as an arrow two miles away but the 75 or so acres is probably just a bit small for a destination casino. The recent partnership of Suffolk Downs and Wonderland has probably ensured that the Boston area license goes to Suffolk with Richard Field’s experience as a casino developer and Menino’s support for that site.

  16. Jacquie

    I am well aware of the Rappaport Study. Does Harvard University receive money from gambling interests?Check the link below:http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:YlI3tP4dOoAJ:www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/gamble/etc/facts.html+does+harvard+university+receive+money+from+gambling+interests&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=safariLook at the study by Grinols and Mustard study;SSRN-Casinos, Crime and Community Costs by Earl Grinols, David …Bottom line- Casinos legally take advantage and prey on the most vulnerable people. Period.February 4, 2009 3:22:00 PM EST

  17. Jacquie

    This is the link for the Grinols and Mustard studyhttp://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=233792In summary:We find that casinos increased crime after a lag. The data indicate that 8% of crime observed in casino counties in 1996 was attributable to casinos. The average annual cost of increased crime due to casinos was $65 per adult per year. Furthermore, by studying the crime rates in counties that border casinos host counties we show that casinos create crime, not merely move it from one area to another. If anything, the neighbor data indicate that casino crime spills over into the border counties rather than is moved from them. Last, we explain why other studies have sometimes failed to identify a link between casinos and increased crime rates.

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