Monday, December 24, 2007

Casino Connection

It has been really hard for me to wrap my brain around the Administration supporting expanded gambling that will increase domestic abuse, addiction, child neglect, bankruptcy, drinking and driving along with traffic and environmental issues. How can the people I worked so hard to elect support this? Why?

I have thought about this many times and rationalized; they (mistakenly) believe that casinos will be a net postive economic gain; they (mistakenly or naively) believe that they will control corruption; or, the allure of playing with the Big Dogs (casino owners/lobbyists) is just too tempting.

Then, on Christmas Eve, I came upon an answer in an article
Patrick's Casino Connection .

Exploitive Gambling

Yesterday, Leo Maley hosted State Senator Susan Tucker (D- Andover) and Les Bernal, former legislative aide on the radio program Focus . Both the economics of casino gambling from a state and regional perspective and the social impacts and addictive components of machine gambling were exposed.

It was interesting to hear that Leo had only recently begun studying the issue of expanding gambling in the commonwealth with the advent of the Governor's decision to endorse casinos. Senator Tucker has a long history with the issue and Mr. Bernal stated that ten years ago he would not have imagined seeing himself as a casino opponent.

Leo described himself as being struck by the Governor's words in his speech at the pro-casino hearing at the statehouse, December 18, 2007 in which the Governor minimized the impacts on a few unfortunate individuals

It sometimes takes a woman to cut to the heart of the matter and Senator Tucker brought tears to my eyes as she spoke about the impact on our children to expand gambling in the Commonwealth. I must admit that I have felt quite alone in the realization and concern of the impacts that gambling have upon young people. In the late 90's I was working with some adolescents in a neighboring community (affluent, jocks, popular) who were in serious trouble with bookies. As a mental health counselor I have worked for over two decades in the Palmer/Springfield region dealing with families, including young people addicted to substances and gambling. It is not good. This is not a new issue for me either, Senator. The barrage of casino advertising which is already at an annoying pitch, the institutionalization of gambling (which the Administration's bill prefers to call "gaming"...OH-KAY! we are really fooled by that little change in semantics) along with the insidious toxic nature of addiction combined with young people who may be highly susceptible to the lure of excitment and easy money, is a dangerous, downward trend.

Senator Tucker articulated the impact on the Massachusetts, "brand" and how it simply does not fit into Massachusetts to be a little Las Vegas.

Exploitive Gambling and the extremely addictive products that have been placed into the marketplace were the focus of Mr. Bernal's discussion. He described how machine gambling is not benign (it ain't your church bingo game -edit mine) with "access and accessibilty" being major contributors to slot machine addiction. He referenced a Canadian study that revealed that gamblers with access to slots (machine gambling) exhibited a 50% rate of addiction. That's a problem for more than a "few unfortunates". It's a problem for their families, employers, community, taxpayers and non-gamblers alike.

William Thompson, a Las Vegas-based expert on the socioeconomic impact of gambling, agreed that casinos change the entertainment landscape. He said people tend to gamble with the discretionary dollars they had used for dining out. And people who live within five miles of a casino are the most common casino visitors. “We found in Illinois that people who lived within five miles gambled twice as much as people who lived from 5 to 15 miles,” Thompson said.

Les posed a compelling question, "why would our government even consider placing this burden on us?" One of the cornerstones of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been a sense of conscience and sense of common good. He emphasized how greater understanding leads to greater opposition to casino gambling. This is the direction he has followed as he is now working with a national coalition to oppose expanded gambling.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I want to share the following announcement:

The multi-billion dollar gambling industry has long had its eyes on
Massachusetts. Efforts to introduce casino gambling into the Commonwealth have been repeatedly rebuffed by the state legislature. But the casino industry is betting on Governor Deval Patrick’s new proposal to allow casino gambling in the Commonwealth. Efforts to pass and defeat the Governor’s casino bill will be the most hard-fought legislative battle of the coming year. The outcome of this fight should concern every Massachusetts resident. Criticism of the Governor’s proposal is growing.

On Sunday, December 23, "Focus" co-host Leo Maley will interview three leading Massachusetts casino opponents. They will make the case against allowing casino gambling in Massachusetts and explain why they are hopeful that they will be able to defeat the Governor’s bill.

State Senator Sue Tucker (D-Andover) is widely recognized to be one of the most knowledgeable and articulate opponents of casino gambling in the state legislature.

Rich Young, director of Massachusetts’ child abuse hotline, has fought efforts to site a casino in his home town of Middleboro. He is President of Casino Free Massachusetts (, a non-partisan statewide coalition that is leading the fight against allowing casinos into the Commonwealth.

Les Bernal, who served for nearly a decade as chief of staff to a Massachusetts state senator, is working to foster an emerging national anti-casino citizens’ movement.

Airing Sundays from noon until 1 p.m. on WMUA, 91.1 FM (Amherst, MA), “Focus” is a progressive news and opinion radio program for Western Massachusetts and beyond. “Focus” also streams live on the web at


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Truth to Character
lists 16 entries for the word character. Notable definitions include: the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing; and an account of the qualities or peculiarities of a person or thing.

Today in the hallowed halls of the statehouse of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on Beacon Hill, the cradle of liberty, a hearing was held by pro-casino state representative David Flynn - D Bridgewater, featuring Governor Patrick and several casino investors including mega-billionaire and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. "The Donald" did not attend despite an invitation to the hearing. Matt Viser of the Globe reported,

The six-hour hearing has created a circus-like atmosphere at the State House. Union activists in matching red T-shirts and business leaders in pinstriped power suits and derby hats packed Gardner Auditorium, where it was standing-room-only.

Governor Patrick's testimony centered on the historic roots of gambling in Massachusetts

I would also like to address the concern that bringing resort casinos to Massachusetts might alter the character of our state. For a very long time now, gaming has been in practice in Massachusetts and gaming revenues have been used to support public projects. In 1762 John Hancock raised lottery money to rebuild Faneuil Hall after a fire.

The Governor elaborated on his rationale to propose expanded gambling in Massachusetts emphasizing and repeating his claim of developing 20,000 permanent jobs. The absence of the claim of 20,000 "new" jobs was interesting. The claim that the character of Massachusetts will not change if class III casinos were to become legal is really the sticking point.

How could the character as defined above of the Commonwealth not change? The developers owning land in Palmer have stated that a casino would bring large changes. Any observer of the Connecticut casino experience would say that the casinos created profound changes in the character of the communities, region and the state. To claim that the character of the Commonwealth or the town of Monson where we live (abutting two potential casino host communities) would not change is simply ludicrious. The differential is whether citizens support the changes inherent to class III casinos to the communities and regions that they impact as net positive or net negative.

The aggregate of features and traits of the Commonwealth cannot not be affected. Let's just talk straight and tell the truth.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Truth to Media

One of today's top stories from the Globe
"Mass casino plan facing negative vote among the Legislature" Globe poll of all 19 members of the legislative committee that will consider Patrick's proposal showed that it would probably get a negative vote that could prove difficult to overcome. "There's a lot of strikes against it," said Representative Barry Finegold, a Democrat from Andover and a member of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies who does not support the Governor's plan to license three casinos.
is contrasted by the continued pro-casino headlines of the front pages of the Springfield Republican
with Governor Deval L. Patrick recorded as stating,
If his bill went to a vote in the Legislature now, it would be approved

Who is telling the truth?
Has politics and the future of the Commonwealth become an exercise in alternate realities?

Now here's the quote of the day that gave this lowly citizen a belly laugh,
"It's more than a bit premature to be talking about how any committee is going to decide on an issue before public hearings have even occurred," said Kyle Sullivan, the governor's press secretary.

How about the Governor predicting how the Legislature will vote?

Geez, guys! Get on message.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Do They Work Harder In Kansas?

Whether or not you're a casino fan or an opponent, it behoves all of us to educate ourselves on the economics of the Governor's proposal, as well as the revenue and job projections being touted by developers and their allies.

We recently received a pro-casino, union-sponsored glossy postcard (sent to me as a Democratic Delegate), hailing the 20,000 "new" jobs that would be created by the proposal endorsed by the Administration. Postive, sustainable Economic Development is sorely needed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

It's been fiscally rocky in this great state and the nation since, well come to think of it, George W. Bush and Co. (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Halliburton, Enron and the other corporate puppets running the country into the dirt) began implementing the "conservative" agenda. Only thing is however, selling America for personal profit and to embellish the owning class is not a conservative value.

Their version of conservativism is a lie. I digress.

It's good blogging weather with gray skies, frigid temps, and darkness at 4:15pm today.
What's a girl to do?
So, I went to (of all places) the website of the Wichita Eagle and what to my wondering eyes should appear, an article about a casino war between residents and Casino giant MGM Mirage that hopes to build in Mulvane, Kansas, population, 5,500!

Casino giant MGM Mirage has joined an effort to build a casino resort complex near the Mulvane interchange on the Kansas Turnpike near Wichita.
The company has become partners with Foxwoods Development Co. of Connecticut, Chisholm Creek Ventures of Wichita and two American Indian tribes to bid for a resort on 176 acres south of Highway 53, just across the Sedgwick County line.
Developers said:
• The Chisholm Creek Casino Resort would include a 250-room hotel, a retail shopping arcade, a spa, golf course, and food, entertainment and meeting venues.
• The casino floor would feature 2,000 slot machines and 50 gaming tables.
• The complex would employ 1,425 to 1,475 people

Then, I thought,

How could it be that a casino proposal in Kansas similar in scope but with a smaller hotel than is allegedly proposed in Palmer could only employ 1,425 to 1,475 people?

That's a serious delta. What could explain the difference in the job projections? The Administration's Plan, the Barrow Plan, the Union Plan (which are all the Barrow Plan) call for 20,000 "new" jobs.

Do they work harder in Kansas?

Are the projections inflated?