Sunday, October 18, 2009

Independent Data-Driven Cost-Benefit Analysis

Date: Sunday, October 18, 2009, 9:21 AM

Dear Honorable Representatives,

I would like to thank you for beginning the process of taking an independent analysis of the expanded predatory gambling slot/casino issue with the development of a commission to review suitability of sites for any potential facilities. I would encourage you to consider a commission comprised of local officials, regional planners, economists and independent non-gambling analysts.

Prior to that step however, it is incumbent upon the Legislature and the Administration to appoint an independent cost-benefit analysis, similar to the recently formed commission by Governor Lynch, NH to study the models, short-term and long-term impacts of the industry.

During this difficult time of economic downturn, it may be tempting to look for a "quick fix" for jobs and revenues. However, the predatory gambling slot/casino industry is extremely complex, requires costly oversight and creates long-term economic drain. Please perform due diligence and commission a balanced if not independent data-driven, cost-benefit analysis of the proposals to expand gambling in the Commonwealth. A blue ribbon commission should not require tax dollars to perform it's task. The Western MA Casino Task Force has meet for over two years studying proposals to expand gambling, developed a ground-breaking summary of regional and local impacts with technical assistance from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and no funding for the on-going work...most of us have served without compensation.

As a former Selectman and member of the Western MA Casino Task Force, I have researched and found that slots/casinos have proven to be permanent, regressive solutions to a temporary economic problem. Once the door to slots is opened, it has never been shut in the US (Russian has re-criminalized slots due to the economic instability generated). Many states have set maximum numbers on facilities only to become dependent on the every increasing need to sponsor additional gambling for state coffers. The impacts to host regions must be quantified and mitigated along with the comprehensive costs to taxpayers to subsidize the industry that has unique
known negative impacts.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Guest speaker at Sudbury UMC

Guest speaker at Sudbury United Methodist Church
SUDBURY — On Sunday, Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. in the Davison Chapel at Sudbury United Methodist Church, a guest speaker from the Massachusetts Council of Churches will present facts about the state Legislature’s proposed bill to allow casino gambling in Massachusetts. A question-and-answer period will follow.
This event is sponsored by the church’s Social Justice Commission. Everyone interested in this topic is invited to attend.
Learn why the United Methodist Church considers gambling a "menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic and spiritual life, and destructive of good government." You will have the opportunity to sign a petition to Gov. Deval Patrick to voice your opposition to predatory gambling in the commonwealth.
The church is located at 251 Old Sudbury Road on Route 27, just east of Sudbury Center. For more information call 978-443-4351.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mashantuckets, Mohegans and debts!

It seems that the horrific practices of predatory businesses and unregulated/under-regulated capitalism (commonly known as greed) that have whacked us with a brutal recession have been SOP for these folks according to the Norwich Bulletin.

Millions, billions owed

The Mashantuckets reportedly have debt obligations of more than $2 billion. The Mohegans have to repay $150 million in $30 million increments, beginning next year, the result of an agreement with the bank to retire a $330 million note.

Neither tribe can seek any of the options available to previous owners of Resorts. They cannot look for a buyer to take the load off their shoulders. Or sell off a gaming hall to reduce debt. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act says only a tribe can own a casino, said Shawn P. Pensoneau, a spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Commission. If property is on the reservation, the land is owned and held in trust by the federal government.

So, truly this is not good financial news for the tribes, the state of CT, employees and the regions impacted. Why did it happen? Why were these casinos allowed to create and propagate phony prosperity?

Mohegan Sun faces similar approaches.

“We’ll have difficulty making those payments on the $150 million, so we are considering debt restructuring,” said Leo Chupaska, Mohegan Sun’s chief financial officer. “We are studying what we can do to take care of the issue.”

Is this why they recently retracted their statements about building a$1 Billion dollar casino in Palmer should Massachusetts be so short-sited and legalized slots? Can they build anything with this noose around their necks in a recession that has sucked the juice out of borrowing?

Like foreign nation

Barrow likens it to trying to collect on a debt from a foreign government.

“You can cut them off,” he said. “But if they do not have money, you can’t get blood from a stone.”

They may declare bankruptcy.

“But don’t expect an Obama bailout,” he said.

If banks are so inclined, they can write off the debt as they do for mortgages, restructure to lower interest rates, or lengthen the time to pay to back, Barrow said. Those steps are in the bank’s self-interest, since they cannot take over a casino.

Meantime, it’s business as usual, Chupaska said.

“We do not anticipate that the financial restructuring being considered by the tribe will affect our employees, customers, vendors or business partners,” he said. “The tribe does not plan to make any additional comments regarding this matter at this time.

NO COMMENT, of course.

Friday, October 9, 2009


The weather's changing and silly season is upon us.

First, Mohegan Sun announces they are in the game for the low-chip price of $25-$50 million dollar licensing fees, no high roller $200-$250 million dollar entry fee for those boys.

Then, 10 Western MA legislators respond to the plea from labor to build a casino in Palmer, the real western MA - not to be confused with the abutting town of Warren (in Worcester County - boo!) by signing a pledge to not support casinos if it ain't in western MA, as long as it ain't in their district. There isn't even a coherent proposal on the table and they aren't asking questions let alone the important questions about cost-benefit. This is not the brain trust of western MA...Rep Scibak, c'mon!

Then, and I say then, Palmer Town Councillor Paul Burns gets out his megaphone and blasts the honorable state Senator Stephen M. Brewer and Palmer's native son, state Representative Todd Smola in both the Springfield Republican and with a Letter to the Editor in the Journal Register newspaper. The pledge for what? There are 17 pathetically disparate, inept bills filed with the Committee for Emerging Technologies and Economic Development (sheesh that needs an acronym...CETED). CETED, oh my, see Ted? Prophetic or what? See Ted roll in his grave as Democratic leadership race to the bottom to fund government services through predatory gambling and exploitation of human weakness. At least the Councillor is thorough and makes sure that none of the people he is hell bent on pissing off, miss his public diss-fits and covers himself in both papers.

Fab photo courtesy of Gladys Kravitz

Not to be outdone, the President of USS Mass was featured in today's Statehouse News (despite their cozy relationship with O'Neill Associates - casino shills extraordinaire and ad sponsors for SHN) setting the record straight on the laugh-ability of the inevitability word out of the Senate President's mouth. At least there are more syllables and therefore potentially more thought to saying the word, "inevitable" than "ca-ching!"

Casino opponents are speaking out against Senate President Therese Murray’s assertion that casinos are “inevitable,” saying proponents are trying to oversimplify and paint the introduction of expanded gambling as foregone. “It’s all over the map,” said Kathleen Conley Norbut, a casino opponent who held meetings Thursday with state officials. “This inevitability is the proponents’ message, and it’s a clever marketing ploy, but it’s not based in fact.” Norbut, a Monson resident who leads United to Stop Slots in Mass., said she met with first assistant Attorney General David Friedman and chiefs of staff to Sens. James Eldridge and Susan Tucker, discussing the downsides of casinos and what she called a need for a cost-benefit analysis. “[Murray] has yet to speak about the mitigation costs, the cost of the gaming regulatory commission, the cost for infrastructure,” Norbut said. “The costs are extraordinary, and our research shows that there is … in fact a long-term economic problem.” Asked whether she believed casinos were likely to pass next year, Norbut replied, “I think it’s very complex, and I don’t think they have it together.” Murray made her claim Wednesday in a WBUR interview broadcast Thursday.
Ya, and there's a casino in Middleboro today too, not! That was "inevitable" wasn't it?

Governor Patrick where are you? We could use some leadership on this messy issue you brought to the Commonwealth. Stop the insanity. Take the whole thing off the table, due diligence, create a cost-benefit analysis commission...I'll serve. Cripes we did a ground breaking study in the Quaboag region with local Selectmen and appointed volunteers with no money.

BTW, thanks for the funding for the EMTs, it's not really stimulus but it's needed. Still sad the town was too cheap to fund it ourselves.