Controlling the casino-gambling narrative

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate president Therese Murray

CommonWealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas says that Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, by focusing on the jobs that casino gambling would bring, is trying to control the narrative in a way that is not in accord with reality. (Boston Globe story on DeLeo’s proposal for two casinos and four racinos.) Jonas writes:

The battle over casinos is always a battle to control the narrative. If the narrative stays focused on jobs and putting people who are hurting and in real economic distress back to work, proponents win. If it’s about predatory gambling and the state partnering up with rich casino moguls to pick the pockets of the lower-income residents who will disproportionately be the ones dumping their paychecks into the slots DeLeo wants installed at the state’s four racetracks (two of which are in his Winthrop-based district), the prospects could get, well, dicey.

Jonas observes that compulsive-gambling rates double in areas where casinos are located — and that problem gambling isn’t just an unfortunate byproduct of casino (and racino) gambling, but part of the business model.

The great Gladys Kravitz surveys the landscape as well, and pronounces DeLeo’s speech yesterday to be a “trifecta”: (1) experts are already saying the racinos DeLeo envisons will have to grow into casinos in order to survive; (2) New Hampshire and Rhode Island officials responded by reviving their own casino plans; and (3) the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s fading hopes of building a casino in Middleborough got a jolt of life.

It’s an absolutely miserable situation. DeLeo, Gov. Deval Patrick and Senate president Therese Murray are all on record as supporting casinos. Patrick’s most plausible opponents in the governor’s race, Republican Charlie Baker and independent Tim Cahill, are pro-gambling as well.

United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts is where you can find out everything worth knowing about casinos and slot machines.

Photo (cc) allegedly by Martha Coakley, although I doubt she took it, and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

A tale of two — uh, one poll

From the Boston Herald:

Gov. Deval Patrick’s standing with voters is so weak that this year’s race for governor is shaping up as a contest between his two rivals, a new Suffolk University-7News poll shows.

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Deval Patrick is leading Republican Charles Baker and independent Timothy Cahill in the latest public Massachusetts gubernatorial poll.

So who’s right? One answer is that the poll shows Patrick leading with 33 percent. Baker gets 25 percent and Cahill 23 percent. Score one for the AP.

Yet the Herald’s lede does accurately reflect the analysis of pollster David Paleologos, who says, “This race is really between Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill. Whoever emerges between the Baker-Cahill race is likely to be the winner.”

My gut tells me that Paleologos is being way too aggressive in reading the numbers, even if they are his numbers. It’s early. My suspicion is that Cahill will fade away, leaving Baker as Patrick’s principal challenger. Patrick’s political standing is pretty weak at the moment, but he’s a formidable campaigner.

Let’s see where this race stands on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Merry Christmas, Charlie Baker

The Boston Globe reports today that state Treasurer Tim Cahill may spend close to $1 million on private lawyers to defend himself and an associate against charges alleging favoritism at the Lottery. Yet the conflict of interest that kept Attorney General Martha Coakley from taking the case at a much lower cost no longer exists.

The story, by Frank Phillips and my Northeastern University colleague Walter Robinson, takes some pains to play down the charges themselves. But this is very bad news for Cahill, who’s running for governor next year as an independent.

It’s also bad news for Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, whose best insurance for re-election is a strong enough Cahill candidacy to split the anti-Patrick vote with Republican challenger Charlie Baker.

Further thoughts from the Outraged Liberal.

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?