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

Getting more than he’s betting on

Writing in the Boston Globe, Paul McMorrow raises an important point about Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s quest to build two casinos and install slot machines at four racetracks.

Right now, the Mashpee Wampanoag bid to build a casino in Middleborough is being stymied mainly because casino gambling is illegal in Massachusetts. Once it’s legalized, the door is open not just for the Middleborough location, but for other tribal casinos as well. McMorrow writes:

In DeLeo’s rush to appease the building trades and carve out some action for the two racetracks in his district, the speaker of the House is setting the table for a gambling expansion in Massachusetts that has the potential to be far broader than anything he’s pitching. He’s opening the door to new gambling halls on Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape, in Middleborough and Fall River. It’s also something neither he, nor anyone else on Beacon Hill, can control.

And though McMorrow doesn’t say it, you can be sure that officials in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut won’t stand pat if casinos are built in Massachusetts.

It is sad that none of the major candidates for governor — not Gov. Deval Patrick, Republican Charlie Baker nor independent Tim Cahill — opposes this financial and social boondoggle-in-the-making.

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  1. Mike LaBonte

    I know people in NH who have been pressing hard for a casino there. And you know what? They are mostly retired seniors who seem to have reasonable gambling practices, just out for some fun and socializing. They simply would like to avoid the bus trips to Connecticut.

    But tellingly, they still want the casino at least 30 miles away from wherever they live. Some want it in NH but near the MA border. This does not sound like a project to be proud of.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: The only poll about casinos that really matters was conducted in 2008 by the Western New England College Polling Institute in Springfield. It found that 57 percent of respondents were strongly opposed to a casino’s being build in their city or town, and another 10 percent were somewhat opposed.

      Here is the story.

      You could call it NIMBYism if a casino were something that had to be build somewhere. I call it NIABYism — Not in Anyone’s Back Yard.

  2. Nial Lynch

    Dan: Western New England College conducted an update of “the only poll about casinos that really matters” last month. The “strong” opposition to a casino being built nearby is trending down from 57 to 53 percent, here and here.

    What about towns that overwhelmingly favor a casino being built nearby, such as New Bedford and Palmer? Why does your NIABY trump their IMBY?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Nial: The New Bedford and Palmer polls were conducted by Clyde Barrow, a casino cheerleader whose numbers have long been suspect and who has taken money from the industry.

  3. Nial Lynch

    Dan: Unless you are saying that they were just totally rigged, the question from the polls appear quite straightforward: “If an election was held today, would you vote yes or no on a referendum question to locate a resort casino at the proposed site in Palmer?”

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