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

Baker, Cahill and Mihos, too

Incredible as it may seem, there may not be a single candidate for governor in 2010 who’s opposed to expanded gambling. As we know, Gov. Deval Patrick is hopeless on the issue, as is State Treasurer Tim Cahill, who’s running as an independent.

A little Googling reveals that the leading Republican candidate, Charlie Baker, is also pro-gambling. Blue Mass. Group recently highlighted an interview Baker gave to the Boston Herald:

During his Herald interview, Baker also:

• Opposed Patrick’s plan to legalize three resort casinos in Massachusetts, saying the resorts would “cannibalize each other.” Baker said he is open to some sort of expanded gaming, however.

And businessman Christy Mihos, who’s challenging Baker for the Republican nomination, actually wants to legalize betting on college and professional sports.

Will no one stand up for common sense?

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29 Comments

  1. Neil

    What is the common sense argument about gambling?

    Personally I disfavor it for MA but I have enjoyed playing a little blackjack in CT, Atlantic City and on a boat off the coast of Massachusetts but I don’t want a casino or casinos built along public byways I travel, such as the Mass Pike or 495. I would also argue that the casino should be held accountable for the costs of treating gambling addicts who become a burden on their families and on society.

    Other than that, what is the common sense position on casino gambling?

  2. lkcape

    Not disagreeing with you, but what is your definition of common sense?

    Some 20 years ago, casinos revitalized a dieing Thames River Valley, drawing on fairly substantial population basis to achieve its goal.

    Unfortunately, for the current proposals, they will likely cannibalize business from exiting operations, putting at risk all such operations.

    For the Legislature to see this as the be-all and end-all for the state’s financial future is a gross error of judgment.

    Expanded gambling might be “entertaining” but it far from a solution to problems.

  3. Newshound

    This is too simple. But, how do we prove our point?

    I suspect they really know better, but it is predatory business as usual. And, there are so many willing participants.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Neil and Ikcape: Not to answer a question with a question … well, yes, to do just that: What is the common-sense argument against legalizing prostitution and taxing it? What is the common-sense argument against legalizing crystal meth and taxing it?

    OK, crystal meth is bad for you in any quantity. But prostitution, like casino gambling, is something that some men can enjoy in moderation. Surely women are not being exploited unless they think they’re being exploited, right?

    Neil, you concede in advance that casinos will create serious social problems that they should have to pay for. Why not take the common-sense approach and not do something that will ruin those lives to begin with?

  5. Newshound

    Common Sense?

    They are absolutely negative economic contribution to wealth creation, in the aggregate to the perpetuation and advancement of civilization.

  6. Newshound

    People who have surplus money to gamble away having fun have too much money.

    Instead, they should make donations to places like Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical, the Museum of Science – – – there are so many needs deserving priority such as comforting and caring for the sick and entertaining and educating the youth – these are contributions to the wealth of society.

    Gambling is a distraction, at best.

    By the way, who in their right mind would gamble?

  7. lkcape

    So what do you do with surplus money, Newshound?

    Buy songs from Apple? Go out for dinner? Smoke? Drink beer? Go skiing in Aspen? Run your house on $2,200 of electricity per year? Drive your Hummer to work by yourself every day?

    Contributions to charity are always appropriate, but it is not the role of one individual to determine what another does with his assets.

    …Unless you are arguing for a socialist society.

    Are you?

    Gambling, like alcohol and music and art, have been around for a long time, and will likely survive all efforts to suppress it.

  8. Neil

    I don’t know that’s why I asked. Is it the same argument as the one for criminalizing alcohol consumption as opposed to making it legal and taxing it?

    Of course it is not a criminal offense to purchase and consume alcohol, and we do tax it. At the same time, like gambling, it create serious social problems.

    Equating meth, gambling, and alcohol for the purpose of discussing public policy is a fools errand. These things are not the same, at least to the extent that we reason their accommodation (freedom to choose) or criminalization (prohibition to choose) in society.

    I disfavor gambling and yet I am no closer to knowing the “common sense argument” against it which you asserted. I guess what I’m saying is that your reference doesn’t make a clear picture of your principled objections.

  9. Peter Porcupine

    DK – FWIW, Mihos does oppose resort casinos, and has gone on record saying so. He thinks it would destroy our tourism industry and would create crime problems. The expanded lottery, with sports betting like Delaware, he does support (did you know we have Red Sox and Patriots tickets now?)

    Also, while we are both old fashioned, I would not limit the possibilities in legalizing prostitution just to male customers and female providers, albeit that is a classic and popular model.

  10. Al

    Legalize gambling and support casinos? Why not legalize prostitution while we’re at it. How about a Chicken Ranch, East? They can even modernize it and let us make appointments online to save time. And marijuana, open up state dope dens. Think of the money we can get if we legitimize these activities and co-opt their operation from the criminal element that run them now. Removing my tongue from my cheek, of course I’m being facetious. My point is gambling is a problem activity from the negatives the traffic costs the immediate area around a casino, to the human costs to those gambling money they shouldn’t. The excuse ‘they can just go to ….., why not have it here and reap the money ourselves’ doesn’t fly.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Ikcape: Unless you would legalize everything, then you don’t believe what you’re saying. It’s a matter of drawing lines. Where would you draw the line?

      Neil: Here, here and here.

  11. lkcape

    The line is where the public policy debate finally decides where that line should be.

    So let the debate run its course absent the efforts to wrap the discussion in (decidedly personal and politically motivated) moral imperatives.

    Personally, I see no reason to gamble.

    But I also see no reason to restrict gambling unless game fixing, fraud and/or the like can be established as a direct and inevitable consequence of allowing the practice. Maybe just ain’t enough.

    Reasonable regulation and substantive oversight are appropriate. (And these, ultimately, become the battleground.)

    Having lived in the Thames River Valley for a time when the casinos were in their infancy, I can personally attest that the effects of traffic congestion and crime are grossly overstated. They are spurious arguments.

    I do not grant you, Dan, any blogger, or any lawmaker the God-given right to determine unilaterally how an individual spends both this time and his money.

  12. Newshound

    Ikcape – you make good points.

    I think drinking beer and wine responsibly, supporting the museum of art, symphony, and other diverse forms of recreation, including skiing, are significant to wealth contribution.

    Gambling is not wealth creation. It is wealth destruction. When so many people and institutions are struggling, some for health care, sadly, we are a long way from being wealthy enough to destroy wealth.

    Every day we are hearing more and more about the threat and theory of increased future health care costs. Delivery of care for the sick is a priority over the allocation of wealth towards a casino.

    And, by the way, when you see that Hummer with someone driving alone, that isn’t me.

  13. Newshound

    Peter – you’re not really serious about the Commonwealth’s legislative leaders proposing male only houses of prostitution, are you?

    Maybe only half as bad as favoring one sex, but perhaps not Constitutional – if that even matters a twitch.

    And, heaven forbid, we wouldn’t want the Great Seal of the Commonwealth on the door and political favorites with high paying jobs working, or hardly working, in the place.

    I hope it doesn’t happen, ever. But since it is your idea, maybe it could be named The Peter Porcupine House. Of course, if you’d accept the honor.

  14. lkcape

    Newshound? Are you arguing to impose your personal interests and preferences on others?

    Who says gambling is wealth destruction?

    It is nothing more, or less, than wealth redistribution…very similar, in fact, to the “state” taking YOUR tax dollar and handing it over as pensions to the political hack.

    The difference is that the gambler chooses to lose the money, while the legislature gives your away without your direct concurrence.

  15. Newshound

    Ikape – I think you’re almost totally correct with your views except for the cost of constructing a casino and its relative expensive overhead and profit margin. Absent of that it is redistribution.

    I think the government is already in over its head in the redistribution business.

    If you and the neighbors want to sit out on the back porch and play games with small amounts of money, thus no overhead and the aggregate stays amongst friends, that’s not so bad.

    But many families are stressed trying to make ends meet, and the same applies to cities and towns. Some of this increased stress is from meeting obligations to retirees and some of those retirees love to take their excess to Foxwoods.

    A little gambling may not be so bad once enough is saved so as not to be on the public dole should you ever need to go to a nursing home, have a financial nest egg for security, college fund completed, etc. but to gamble away and then anticipate government handouts seems totally destructive.

  16. mike_b1

    “Equating meth, gambling, and alcohol for the purpose of discussing public policy is a fools errand. These things are not the same, at least to the extent that we reason their accommodation (freedom to choose) or criminalization (prohibition to choose) in society.”
    Actually, the same people who are predisposed to one addiction tend to be predisposed to many addictions. It’s one reason so many compulsive gamblers are also chain smokers and/or alcoholics. If the point of law is to protect the weak from the strong, then there’s no reason not to outlaw gambling.

  17. LFNeilson

    How do casinos make money? By running a game where people lose more than they win. It’s a bad deal. It’s a tax on stupididity.

  18. lkcape

    The point of law, Mr. B1 is NOT to protect the weak from the strong, that is an elegant by-product of well-crafted law.

    The point of law is to treat all persons equally and to apply the society’s norms in a codified manner.

    BIG, BIG difference.

  19. Neil

    And then you must also justify your alcohol prohibition policy(law.)

  20. One against gambling based on some rediculous moral basis, Dan plays Megabucks but is against casinos, another says if you have the extra money you should give it to charity, another says people lose more than they win (that’s enlightening).. The freaken state brings in more per capita from gaming than anyplace in the world, and has for decades.. what planet are you self righteous, my vices are fine but your’s are evil, people from?

  21. Bob Gardner

    Speaking of prostitution, anyone here remember the Boston Phoenix? They print a whole section of prostitution ads every week, and even though I’m sure it’s all “low impact” prostitution, they seem to make a point of giving away the paper free to anyone tall enough to reach inside one of those sidewalk boxes.

  22. lkcape

    Dan is still ducking the question of what he considers “common sense” on this issue.

    Everyone except Dan is noticing!

    • Dan Kennedy

      Ikcape: Already answered it. Everyone knows it except you and Bob.

  23. Neil

    lkcape, in lieu of a cogent response, Dan provided do-it-yourself links:

    1) Change the Quality of Life in Our Communities
    2) Deepen Our State Budget Problems
    3) Dramatically Increase the Tax Burden on Non-Gamblers: “You Pay Even If You Don’t Play”
    4) Detract From Our State’s Economy
    5) Turn the Myth That “Everyone is Gambling Already” into a Reality
    6) Push the State Well Beyond the Lottery Gambling Business
    7) Turn One Out of Every Twenty People into a Gambling Addict, Hurting Our State’s Families

    States Face Drop in Gambling Revenues
    gambling is not insulated from broader economic forces like recessions
    The data shows that states take a real chance in depending on gambling because this revenue is not likely to keep pace with growing budgetary needs
    Others, however, argue that the current decline is temporary, and that the industry has plenty of room to expand

  24. Newshound

    Even though our most honored and successful general sits high and mighty on his horse in dignified form in front of the State House, and that much of his success is attributed to full nourishment of his men with alcoholic beverage and a good supply of women (along with good food, medical care, etc.) I think we all know that gambling, alcoholic irresponsibility, prostitution, etc. is not a way to wealth creation and the perpetuation of a refined civilization.

    For those so itching to gamble to supplement tax revenue, converting all parking meters into dual purpose slot machines would be a major improvement over casinos, but still a detriment to society, overall.

    General Hooker is a great legend.

    But shouldn’t we have made disciplined, refined social improvements since the Civil War, not to overlook, importantly too, that pure economics can not support such waste and destruction?

  25. lkcape

    The Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohicans in nearby Connecticut may disagree with you.

  26. Newshound

    lkcape says:
    Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohicans may disagree.

    “May disagree” is a little weak – WILL or DO disagree – quite strongly, I suspect.

    Suspect, too, that they will arrive at such conclusion because of a self-centered bias. We shouldn’t abandon our objectivity and common sense for the benefit of one class of people who have the same privileges as the rest of us.

  27. lkcape

    The comment, Newshound, was concerning your concept that it a casino installation was all waste and destruction.

    Don’t read into statements more than what was said.

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