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

Just vote “no” on expanded gambling

I just sent the following e-mail to my state representative, Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers:

Dear Ted —

I’m writing today to urge you to vote “no” on Speaker DeLeo’s bill to expand legalized gambling in Massachusetts. The negative effects of casinos and slot machines would be far greater than could be justified by any increased revenue the state would receive — revenue that, in all likelihood, would not be nearly as great as proponents predict.

Not only would casinos in Massachusetts be a bad idea in and of themselves, but they would almost certainly lead to expanded gambling in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

I first became aware of the hazards of casino gambling when a few wealthy investors used the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to put forth a plan in Middleborough, the town where I grew up, to build what at one time was described as the world’s largest casino. As you probably know, that effort was fraught with corruption. Glenn Marshall, the tribal leader, ended up going to prison.

Studies have shown that casinos lead to increased crime and a higher divorce rate, and have even been linked to an increase in suicides. I urge you to get the facts from United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, which is online at


Dan Kennedy

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  1. Barry Kaplovitz

    Not much at all that I agree with D.K. on — he slurps from the left side of the soup bowl on way, way too many things. But on casino gambling he’s 150 percent up-one-side-and-down-the-other dead-on right about what a #—–# disaster this will be for Massachusetts.

    Whatever the several-hundred-many faults of our single-party (D) state with its famous “Hack-Progressive Alliance,” when it comes to casino gambling Massachusetts is the last “un-cola” remaining on the fifty-state shelf.

    We’re a sports, politics, and (higher) education culture. Casino gambling will insinuate itself inside of and then quickly start degrading most if not all of the institutions that sponsor and bring us to so many of our shared cultural experiences — from the ballpark to the town hall meeting to the college campus.

    Will we regret the Foxwoods-izing of our state? Will we ever.

  2. L.K. Collins

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling.

    After reading Dan’s referenced background material, I came away with the thought that the offering contained way more assumptions than facts and was almost amusing in its phony hysteria. (Pseudo-scientific is what I call their rants.)

    Then on rereading Dan’s article I realized that his whole argument boiled down to “not in my [my parents, actually] back yard.” He is offended, yes OFFENDED, that his old home town might become something different from what it was some 40 or 50 years ago.

    I lived many years in the neighborhoods just south of Ledyard and Montville, CT both before and after development. The casinos there were quite good neighbors, and the sky still fell only during the climate change events (rain/snow) that occur on a natural cycle.

    When I pass through all of those towns these days, I notice that the sky falls only during those same, naturally occurring climate change events, and the scenery has changed little more than one would expect given the passage of time.

    I can understand, even support, not wanting gambling casinos in your own back yard.

    But at least be honest about it.

    Once again, our friend from the elitist and learned left leans upon the the very tactics that he excoriates all who oppose him for using — unfounded hyperbole and scare.

    He appears to be channeling his inner Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Are we to see a Kieth Olberman-style tantrum next, or maybe hear of a Matthewsian tingle up and down his leg?

  3. Hey L.K., the web designer for here. I’m just wondering what hysteria and rants you are referring to.

    Perhaps it is the comment in the press by the Mayor of Ledyard who disputes claims of economic spin-off, “I’ve become very cynical about this operation over the past 11 years,” said Mayor Wesley Johnson of Ledyard, Conn.”There has been no economic development spin-off from the casino. Businesses do not come here,” Johnson said. “Tourists come mainly to gamble. Gamblers have one thing in mind: get to the casino, win or lose their money, get in their cars, and go home.”

    Or the former Ledyard town planner who no longer lives there, but has testified several times at Mass. State House hearings to say that, “Ledyard was a small, quiet rural town of 15,000 in the 1980’s. By the 1990’s Ledyard had become host to the world’s largest casino and had the fifth highest crime rate in CT.”

    Or the Nicholas Mullane, first selectman of the nearby town of North Stonington. “The local money will be diverted from the normal business purchases to the casino for everything from restaurants, refrigerators, automobiles, mortgages, and even college educations. Gambling problems will affect the way local and municipal businesses operate. Your quality of life and the way of life that you have today will change completely. Your gas stations and donut shops will flourish…”

    These comments can all be found here

  4. Bill Hanna

    L.K., while it’s encouraging to note that everything seems okay when you drive through Connecticut, some of us are going to need more than that to quiet our fears about expanded gaming. One doesn’t have to believe that the sky is going to fall if DeLeo’s bill passes; it’s enough to know that there’s likely to be significant stress placed on both the infrastructure and the environment in those areas “lucky” enough to be selected for casinos, and all for economic projections that are debatable at best. Those concerns should belong to everybody, not just lefties and elitists. And, to be perfectly clear, I live in Taunton and I consider Middleborough my back yard. I don’t want it in my back yard.

  5. L.K. Collins

    Yep, hysterical and scare mongering.

    You will need to note that Ledyard, Montville, and North Stonington, as well as other communities in that area, were struggling mightily from the massive lay-offs from the largest employer in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    The bucolic nature of the areas was changing dramatically and much for the worse.

    I do object, Ms. Tufts to the citation of numerous studies without giving reference to where they came from and so others can go about fact checking the sweeping conclusions that were drawn.

    But this is typical of the hysterical argument, be it left or right.

    It still does not address our host’s avoidance of claimin as his own his essential objection that developments such as a casino should not happen in his back yard.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @L.K.: Although I have written repeatedly that I don’t wish to see a casino built in the town where I grew up, Middleborough isn’t even in back of my backyard. I have not lived there since the late ’70s. I own no property there. And if forced to choose I would rather see a casino built in Middleborough than in Danvers.

      But the bottom line is that casinos are bad news for everyone and shouldn’t be built anywhere.

  6. BP Myers

    Bad enough the state lottery preys on people with gambling addictions, and Keno has turned every corner store and liquor outlet into a gambling facility, now they’re going to have real casinos too?

    At what point does Massachusetts become a place where you really don’t want to bring up children?

    The whole state is turning into Mill Valley in “Back to the Future II,” the one with the alternate future where thugs like Biff hold sway, and the largest building in town is his casino.

  7. Renee Aste

    Exactly what would be the permanent jobs be? Part-time? Low/non skilled? Outside the actual management of the casinos, I’m not sure exactly this is the job growth we would like to see for ourselves, our children, our neighbor’s children, or for the children growing up in lower-income/fragile homes.

    If we want revenue for the towns, why can’t towns/cities be allowed to have their own ‘Casino Night’ fundraisers in a limited manner? Where it’s seen not as a business but as a community builder for the older residents. If it’s really about the cities and towns, that is where the discussion should be heading.

  8. Barry Kaplovitz

    Here’s a project for Dan Kennedy’s journalism students:

    How would building a Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun-sized casino at (or in place of) the Suffolk Downs racetrack on the East Boston/Revere border affect the following:

    1) Student life (both undergraduate and graduate) on college and university campuses that are within a thirty mile drive and/or a Green, Orange and Red-connecting-to-the-Blue Line MBTA trip to a Suffolk Downs resort casino

    2) The perils to student (especially undergraduate) finances if a Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun-sized casino is built within such easy reach of so many Boston area colleges and universities

    3) How opening of a Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun-sized casino will affect the activities of fake I.D. manufacturing and acquisition that seems to hover around college-age populations

    4) The new drains and requirements and on college and university administrations that will surely develop as a result of building a large resort casino within such easy reach of their students and campuses . . .

    5, 6, 7 ,8 upward and onward . . . )

    Good luck, journalism students of D.K. !!

  9. L.K. Collins

    As I recall, Dan, you thought Fall River might be a good place at one point, care to point out other candidates?

    This whole doomsday scenario that is being written for the time after passage of a law allowing gambling reminds me of the great wailing and gnashing of teeth immediately following the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling on the rights of gays and lesbians.

    Hyperbole and scare. Repeated as needed.

    …Revealed later to only be hyperbole and scare, repeated until lame.

    The left is no holier than the right when it comes to appealing to the emotional crowd.

    Hyperbole and scare. Repeat at risk of being seen as irrelevant.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    As I recall, Dan, you thought Fall River might be a good place at one point.

    A “good” place, @L.K.? Wrong. Why don’t you do a little Googling and save yourself the embarrassment?

  11. When I pressed Dan in this blog x many months ago, he admitted that he plays megabucks. Then he suggested the casino gambling was different because our elected representatives hadn’t made it legal. Now, concerned that they may indeed make it legal, he’s using silly argument that suggest his concern is that it would increase gambling in NH & RI – so now the megabucks player is out to save the world… as he supports the most successful lottery in the world, the Massachusetts State Lottery. He then tells his rep how he first became aware of the hazards when the Wampanoag’s got involved, he mentiones Machpee, Middleborough, tribal leaders, wealthy investors and all the corruption – ignoring of course, that this all has taken place without a single casino in the state of Masssachusetts. Just the lottery paying for his towns teachers and cops, just the church running bingo parlors… certainly. And he warns us of the corruption that WOULD be? Of COURSE he mentions how in all liklihood the proponants predictions are all wrong, yet those who against his point of view have all the “facts”. So thank you LK for not allowing him to travel too far down his little hypocrisy land of fantasy and convenient assumptions and conclusions. And if you see Dan at the corner store, getting his weekly fix, I mean buying his weekly megabucks ticket, remind him that the guy who runs the corner store and the next, and the next, is as guilty as his church, as guilty as his state. Imagine if he hits for $5 million, how silly his argument will sound. Almost as silly as it sounds now.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Yes, @Bob, and my hypocrisy even extends to defending my right to drink beer while objecting to other people’s desire to smoke crack. Most of us are able to make those distinctions.

  12. Mike Benedict

    Just got back from a conference in Las Vegas last week. What a heart-warming sight, seeing a little boy who couldn’t have been more than four or five, propped against the perimeter wall at Luxor, serving as a head-rest for his even younger sister, while his parents/guardians played the slots 8 ft. away.

    On a Tuesday.

    At 3 am.

  13. That says more about his parents than it does about Las Vegas. Children are not allowed on the casino floor. Do you know how many children went to bed without food here in Massachusetts as you were wandering around a casino at 3am on a Tuesday morning? Too many. I like how you add the “conference” touch.. so innocent. In a casino, 3am, tuesday morning.. i’m afraid to ask what type of conference.

  14. Mike Benedict

    Bob, you are already on record as being a Vegas supporter. Duly noted.

    As for what kind of conference it was, that is hardly relevant. Adults stay up all hours in all sorts of places, some times even at home (!). The fact is, despite your shell game attempt, I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

    But the environment that is Las Vegas did nothing but encourage adults to put their kids in a precarious situation. Find me the public spot in Boston where an adult can take keep preteen child up all night, essentially unsupervised.

  15. Come on Mike… that is not fair. I am not really pro casino, i’m really pro choice. It might very well be better for is state if we dont have casinos.. I really dont care much either way. It’s more of a case of allowing smokes and booze, then having the the most successful lottery known to man, every city & state in the commonwaelth relying on that revenue… and then were going to say No to gambling.. a little silly if you ask me. I’m not playing a shell game, it’s just a little disingenuous for you to be taling about what you see at 3am in a casnio in Vegas as you know Vegas, just as it is for Dan to know gamblim, except when he’s buying HIS tickets. That’s all. If I cared that much i’d simply move there. It’s the nonsense that I have issue with. But all said and done.. I got nothing against you or Dan. Period.

  16. Mike Benedict

    It is a shell game, and it’s the same game legislators would play during the two years I spent (trying to) lobbying them on various manufacturing-related issues.

    The ploy goes like this: If we address issue X, then we also need to address issue Y. And what we would rather do is address issue X+Y as part of an omnibus (the favorite legislative term) bill.

    And in the end, nothing happens, because in politics you can move an anthill but you can’t move a mountain.

    Same here. As the argument goes: How can we be against casino gambling if we allow the lottery? Or: You bought a lotto ticket, therefore you are a hypocrite.

    But that’s not logic, that’s obfuscation. The pro-gamblers want to tie together everything, because they realize how difficult it would be to kill the entire fatted pig that way. It’s an age-old political maneuver, nothing more.

  17. So now that you’ve cornered the market on logic Mike, perhaps you can enlighten me as why we dont hear you complain about the lottery? Dan is a faithful lotto player, and you’re trolling around a Vegas casino at 3am. I really, really, really dont care if they allow casinos or not.. so I would think i’d be the perfect person for you to argue the elements one way or the other, without getting twisted into the knot you appear to be in. If someone has a different viewpoint than you, make them the issue instead huh? We give people the right to carry guns, to drive 3 ton machines that go 110 mph, we allow them to smoke and drink themselves to death… yet a casino, which is a building, is going to bring down civilization. That’s alot of crap. “You bought a lotto ticket, therefore you are a hypocrite.”. Ya Mike, when you go on for the next 6 months talking about the problems that OTHERS have with gambling, YOU ARE!

  18. Mike Benedict

    Hehe, talk about twisted in a knot.

    Keep defending casinos and the public’s right to choose. But then don’t complain about the cost of picking up after them.

    Like I said, the lottery and casinos are separate things. Those who are pro-gambling want to tie them together. Those who think with their brains know better.

  19. You’ve clearly missed my entire point on the issue from the very start. I am suggesting that if they were approved, it should be because gaming is legal throughout the land, including in Massachusetts. I have stated that Massachusetts is considering casino gambling for the wrong reason, in my opinion. The state sees it as a way to produce revenue.. and here you talk about it as a net loss. Though you must have felt rather silly walking through that Vegas casino at 3am in April when just the very month prior you pronounced to the entire world on this website “When our legislators discuss casinos and jobs in the same breath, it makes me wonder if they’ve been to Las Vegas lately. That city has been decimated. Gambling is not recession-proof. Neither are tourism or conventions. To say otherwise is to sell snake oil.”. Yet there you were in Vegas… 3AM, THINKING WITH YOUR WHAT?

  20. Mike Benedict

    Gee, Bob, if I had known you cared so much, I would have brought you along.

    It’s 3 am: Do you know where Michael Benedict is?

    You really are obsessed with how I spend my free time, aren’t you?

    Since you spent 20 years in Vegas “not” selling real estate, you should know that in order to get to a hotel room, one must walk through the casino. I don’t recall mentioning I was gambling.

    But again, obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate.

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