Saturday, November 28, 2009

Truth to Brian Lees

Dear Brian,

I miss the days when it was rumored that you used to ask "how much will it cost the taxpayers?" on the floor of the State Senate.

Slots/casinos are long-term economic drain. In your OpEd in the Globe you failed to mention the other side of the balance sheet...the costs.

Please see the lists of municipal impacts developed by the Western MA Casino Task Force. It is unfortunate that so many Springfield pols are not doing due diligence on this matter and have signed onto the big PAC campaign bandwagon without regard to the potential impacts. Have you considered the impacts on the courts? Where will the funds come from to mitigate additional problems?

Your OpEd also failed to articulate that the previously estimated billion dollars in gambling revenues that goes out of state has greatly diminished with the recession. Even if $700 million in gambling revenues left the Commonwealth only the Adjusted Net Gambling Revenues (ANGR) are taxed and "recaptured". Less than $90 million could be recaptured, the hit to the lottery is estimated at $80 million and we haven't even begun to disuss mitigation and the development of an additional government bureaucracy, The Gambling Regulatory Control Commission.

I hope you re-evaluate your position and math on these one-sided proposals. No one can validly state these proposals are good for the taxpayers. Only special interests groups, developers, owners and the pols that serve them benefit.

Small businesses, environment, public safety, infrastructure, education budgets and families suffer.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Senator Brewer and Representative Smola Come Through

The following letter was sent to Senator Rosenberg and the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies on behalf of the Western MA Casino Task Force. I just received it today, one day after sending them an email pushing for this action that they had already taken. Thank you!!!



November 4, 2009

The Honorable Stanley C. Rosenberg
State House, Room 320
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Senator Rosenberg:

We are writing on behalf of the Western Massachusetts Casino Task Force (Task Force) (Contact: Edward S. Harrison, Chairman, 60 Congress Street, Springfield, MA 01104; Telephone: 413-267-XXXX), relative to its list of concerns on the expanded gaming issue in Massachusetts. It is our understanding that the Task Force has compiled a list of high priority concerns they have relative to the expanded gaming issue. It is our further understanding that the Task Force has outlined specific concerns, some of which includes performing a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, public safety, and addressing the impact expanded gaming would have on the environment (see enclosure).

We would appreciate your
reviewing the Task Force's concerns before drafting a final bill on this subject. It would also be appreciated if you would keep us apprised of your efforts in this regard. If you have any questions relative to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact either one of

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this matter.


State Senator

State Representative


Truth to Bobby

Dear Ms. Marfione,

Would you kindly share the below email message with Mr. Haynes? Best wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving.

“What does labor want?
We want more school houses and less jails.
More books and less guns.
More learning and less vice.
More leisure and less greed.
More justice and less revenge.
We want more ... opportunities to cultivate our better natures.”

Samuel Gompers Memorial
San Antonio, Texas

Samuel Gompers (January 27, 1850 – December 13, 1924) was an American labor union leader and a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and served as the AFL's president from 1886-1894 and from 1895 until his death in 1924. He promoted harmony among the different craft unions that were comprised by the AFL, trying to minimize jurisdictional battles. He promoted "thorough" organization and collective bargaining to secure shorter hours and higher wages, the first essential steps, he believed, to emancipating labor. He also encouraged the AFL to take political action to "elect their friends" and "defeat their enemies." During World War I, Gompers and the AFL worked with the government to avoid strikes and boost morale, without undermining union wage and hour standards. During that period, the AFL saw membership rise.

Dear Mr. Haynes,
I hope this will give you pause to reflect over the Thanksgiving holidays about the founding principles of the Commonwealth and the Labor movement that are in direct opposition to predatory gambling. Oppression of one group of people for the alleged benefit of others is wrong. Working and middle class families should not be strapped with the additional burden of subsidizing the known negative impacts of slots/casinos. The long-term economic drain and human sacrifices do not justify the temporary construction phase.


Kathleen Conley Norbut

Monday, November 23, 2009

Please take a stand

Dear Senator Brewer and Representative Ashe,

While I am aware that you do not set the calendar for the legislature, I am writing to you to let you know my sentiments about the recent end of the formal session and the failure of the legislature to address issues of grave importance currently on the table.

Average people are suffering from unemployment, underemployment and having to work brutal hours to make up for months of lost wages. All of the above scenarios we have experienced in my immediate and wider family. The Legislature - especially leadership, appear to be out of touch with the realities of the taxpayers struggles.

Today's Republican editorial is something that I hope you will consider and share with your colleagues.

For example, instead of implementing a tax-free zone along the NH border to save retail jobs and stimulate growth in the Commonwealth a higher sales tax was enacted. Thereby increasing the Massachusetts flight into CT as well as NH. This defies common sense.

Egregious behavior by lawmakers continues with failure to inform citizens the truth that only ANGR (Adjusted Net Gaming Revenues) that go out of state would be taxed for a net "recapture" of less than $90-100 million dollars - minus another $80 million dollar drop in the Lottery and the addition of another multi-million dollar bureaucracy. Legislators spread misinformation when talking about a "billion dollars of gambling revenues going out of state that we are losing".

Why are we not seeing the call for an independent cost-benefit analysis which is the primary recommendation of the Western MA Casino Task Force? I believe that it is your duty to bring this forward to legislative leadership, committee members, your peers and the wider public.

Why are we not seeing substantive discussion about the long-term economic drain, impacts to families, courts, municipal budgets? I spent two days last week at Foxwoods for a work-related conference and it was quite revealing to see the low attendance and the misery on people's faces as they stared alone and isolated at slot machines.

Should my family have to supplement the social and municipal costs of predatory gambling either through our taxes or further decline in quality of life to subsidize special interests?

Perhaps, I need to ask you more clearly and directly to call for an independet cost-benefit analysis before legalizing additional predatory gambling, slots/casinos as your constituent and long time supporter?

Please take a stand to declare the need for an independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing addtional predatory gambling, slots/casinos in the Commonwealth.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. I send you and your family blessings for a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Warm regards,


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eagles and Ducks

November 18, 2009

US Senate Candidates Khazei and Capuano endorse independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing slots/casinos.

(Boston) – United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) a non-partisan statewide coalition announced today that it has received responses from two of the US Senate candidates to the questionnaire that was sent to candidates in October. “US Senate candidate Alan Khazei promptly returned the questionnaire and Congressman Michael Capuano filed his responses with our organization on Tuesday, November 17, 2009,” reported Kathleen Conley Norbut, President, United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

Despite an extension and reminders from USS Mass, four of the candidates (COAKLEY THE AG responsible for public and consumer safety! Pagliuca - it seems like the campaign may be a just a hobby. Brown - who fails the fiscal conservative test on this one by supporting slot parlors/racinos and expansion of government with the development of a new bureaucracy the Gaming Regulatory Control - hackocracy and taxpayer subsidizes costs of impacts and Jack E. Robinson) failed to respond to the questionnaire, which leaves taxpayers wondering if they understand the magnitude of the impacts of the proliferation of predatory gambling upon local economies, state and national policy. Each candidate was asked four questions regarding expanding predatory gambling including two questions about their position on the far-reaching implications of the Supreme Court decision in February 2009 relevant to native American tribes bringing lands into trust; the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Report recommendations which included a moratorium on slot/casino gambling in the United States and their position regarding a proposed independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing any expanded predatory gambling, slots/casinos in the Commonwealth.

The candidate’s responses reveal that Mr. Khazei expressed his strong support for an independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing any expansion of predatory gambling, slots/casinos with a detailed description of the depth of his knowledge and concerns about the costs associated with the slots/casino industry, “While we must commit ourselves to creating jobs and while monetary costs and benefits must be measured, we must not lose sight of what we treasure most in life. We must ask ourselves if casino gambling is worth it even at the expense of those among us who are most vulnerable.”

Congressman Capuano supports the proposed independent cost-benefit analysis before legalizing slots/casinos for the purpose of quantifying job creation. He expressed hesitation that there would be significant job creation with slot facilities. Congressman Capuano expressed sensitivity for Native Americans and a desire to see more non-casino job creation on reservations, “It is important to be sensitive to issues of identity and self-definition, with regard to Native Americans and, indeed, to all persons. That said, the larger community is affected by decisions governing recourse to the Indian Reorganization Act.”

“We are pleased that two candidates chose not to duck these controversial issues by taking the time to address these matters that impact economic, public health, consumer protection, safety and future decisions for the Commonwealth and the nation,” stated Ms. Norbut. The full text of the candidates responses are posted on the USS Mass website.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The League of Women Voters Joins USS Mass

7 November 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Louise Haldeman
LWVMA Casino Gambling Specialist 617.523.2999

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts
Joins Anti-Casino Coalition

BOSTON-The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has joined forces with the anti-casino coalition United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts.

The non-profit coalition, comprised of citizens, taxpayers, activists and statewide organizations across the political spectrum, works to educate and inform citizens and Legislators of the negative economic and social effects of casino gambling.

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has opposed allowing casino gambling in the state since 1982, and actively lobbied against casino legislation last year.

Louise Haldeman, the casino gambling specialist for the League's Program and Action Committee, is the League's representative to the United to Stop Slots board of directors.

"While casinos would bring in some revenue and some jobs, costs associated with those jobs, the impact on local communities and businesses, and the impact on families will far outweigh the benefit," said Haldeman.

The League of Women Voters opposes the legalization of casino gambling, believing the demands for social and municipal services, police protection and the establishment of a state regulating body outweigh any benefits from increased employment, tourism and tax revenue.

"The League's fiscal positions reinforce that an economic crisis cannot be cured by legalizing casino gambling nor can sustainable revenue be created with the introduction of this industry into the Commonwealth," said Zaxaro Bennett, president of the state League.

Since 1983 the League has presented testimony to oppose the legalization of casino gambling and has worked with organizations that share this goal. LWVMA will continue to work to defeat any bills that would provide for the legalization of casino gambling in Massachusetts.

# # #

Shout out to Charlie Pierce

Ya just can't make up this stuff! Let me preface this must read article with a shout out to the members of the USS Mass coalition who have been tracking the misinformation pattern and the misuse of public funds/institutions for the benefit of the slots/casino industry.

A dubious hand
A casino expert has too many cards in play.
By Charles P. Pierce
November 15, 2009

Dear Professor Clyde Barrow: First of all, you’ve got guts. It takes a rare
kind of fortitude to throw yourself behind the proposition of casino
gambling here in Massachusetts while having the same name as the bandit --
the two-armed bandit, that is -- played by Warren Beatty in that movie where
Faye Dunaway was young Bonnie Parker. (Given how deftly the Patrick
administration thus far has handled this issue, I’m surprised we haven’t
seen an earnest disquisition on the morality of gambling from Father Jesse
James, SJ.) Now, I don’t wish to cast aspersions about your academic work at
UMass-Dartmouth on behalf of the Fleece the Suckers Act of Whenever. Others
have done that, of course, most notably the people who noticed you were also
in the employ of a gaming proponent who wants to build a casino in New
Hampshire. However, this does present something of a conundrum. You have
long maintained we need casinos here to keep our local sheep in the pen,
rather than sending them off to get shorn in Connecticut. So now the Patrick
administration has embraced your study as a means to help it build casinos,
while you’re helping other folks build one north of the border. It seems
logical, therefore, to conclude that you could find an economic reason to
build a casino almost anywhere, up to and including the bottom of Cape Cod
Bay. Perhaps that could be the plot of the upcoming thriller: Oceans 1, or
Deval and Clyde.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nothing is Transparent


Contact: Kathleen Conley Norbut, M.Ed., LMHC
United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts, President
USS Mass
PO Box 376
Palmer, MA 01069

Pro-predatory Gambling Legislators Conduct Business Behind Closed Doors

(Boston) – United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) a non-partisan statewide coalition criticizes pro-predatory gambling legislators as they conduct business behind closed doors with a recent forum on slots/casinos at the statehouse. “The work of “the people” seems to exclude “the people” of the Commonwealth when it comes to slots/casinos as evidenced when pro-predatory gambling legislators met on Monday in a closed forum on Beacon Hill,” stated Kathleen Conley Norbut, President of USS Mass. Organizers defended their actions to hide public officials from the public so they would, “feel comfortable to ask any questions without having any type of criticism.” Legislators give speeches about transparency yet they have crafted a double standard for their conveniences and are not bound by the same rules as local officials by Open Meeting Laws.

Elected officials should not be shielded from taxpayer’s questions and criticisms when it comes to discussing legalizing gambling activities that derive the vast majority of revenue from addicted individuals; are historically wrought with graft, political corruption and criminal activities. As offensive as these actions are to the citizens of the Commonwealth, closed door discussions and one-sided presentations have been common practice in the debate about legalizing expanded predatory gambling. Opponents of predatory gambling and local officials concerned about negative impacts to their communities were not included in the senate informational hearing in June. Concerned citizens were ignored by Administration officials two years ago when requests were made to meet to discuss the flawed legislation submitted by the Governor. The July 4th middle of the night legalization of predatory gambling by politicians in Pennsylvania was not a beacon of democracy.

Lobbyists are on-track to spend over $1 million dollars this year to influence the legislature to expand predatory gambling with slots/casinos in the Commonwealth. Meanwhile the Mass. Council on Compulsive Gambling budget was recently slashed, drastically reducing the safety net needed to treat the human tragedies created by compulsive gambling. The Beacon Hill formula has not changed; quick fixes, closed doors meetings, lobbyists fronting for deep-pocketed out-of-state and foreign investors, misinformation about revenues and job creation.
The only thing clear about what is happening on Beacon Hill is that nothing is transparent

Labor unions have threatened to withhold support to long-time Democratic legislators and traditional allies to pressure them to support their short-term interests for construction jobs. A handful of legislators have pressured labor unions to support their minute special interest group, track owners. These antics occur despite the reality that there is no upside for substantive construction jobs and many of the track jobs are not unionized. Legislative leadership has expanded their thinking to support expanding predatory gambling stating that jobs are needed, but they willfully ignore the long-term economic drain of slots/casinos including the documented subsidies by taxpayers in states with legalized slots/casinos for social, public safety and infrastructure costs created by the industry. Pro-predatory gambling legislators serve on Advisory Committees to UMass public policy centers while also setting the budgets for these facilities and the people who perform the limited research on slots/casinos.

Governor Patrick initiated the race to the bottom with his declaration of support for casinos. United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts therefore calls upon the Governor and the Legislature to perform independent cost-benefit analysis before any steps are taken to legalize an industry that creates greater long-term negative fiscal costs than it renders in benefits.


Monday, November 9, 2009

MASC Proposed Resolution

Inquiring minds want to know who brought forth the proposed Resolution for the MASC to support casino gambling revenues to fund education? $5.00 D&D gift certificate to the person who squeals. Let's just hope it wasn't a certain SC member who is profiting from his relationship with a certain slots/casino predatory gambling outfit. Conflicts of interest abound.

Here's the version of the Resolution that should be considered by the MASC:

Resolution – Amendment MASC Delegate Convention

November 2009

Whereas the MASC has a long and proud tradition of advocating for public education, working for policies that promote the health and wholeness of all young people, and fighting to garner adequate and sustainable funding to support best practices and pedagogy for comprehensive public education;

And whereas legalizing slot machines would erode participation in the Lottery and siphon away from local small businesses the discretionary spending on goods and services that they depend on;

And whereas the impacts of expanded gambling in other states provide evidence of long-term economic drain, increased student drop-out rates in entire slot/casino host regions (35-50 mile radius), an increased incidence of problem gambling and gambling addiction among youth in these regions and increased fiscal burdens upon school budgets for entire host regions (35-50 mile radius);

And whereas modern slot machines use neuroscience-informed technology to mesmerize and entrap gamblers and to keep them playing until they have exhausted their resources ("playing to extinction");

And whereas medical research has documented the highly addictive nature of the brain's chemical reactions to slot machine stimulation;

And whereas evidence from other states indicates that the long-term costs of gambling addiction -- increased substance abuse, increased crime, increased family discord and dysfunction -- outweigh the short term benefits of licenses and gambling revenues;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, as a matter of both principle and policy, opposes the legalization of slot machines and any similar efforts to promote addictive and predatory gambling as a means of raising public revenues and requests that an independent cost-benefit analysis of these proposals be performed before any expanding gambling is legalized in the Commonwealth. Public education cannot sustain any further fiscal negative impacts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Predatory Gambling

Proponents do not dispute the long-term net economic drain.
Proponents do not dispute the predatory business model.
Proponents do not dispute that slots/casinos are different than social gambling.
Proponents do not even discuss the fiscal negative impacts on entire regions where slots/casinos are located.
Proponents do not dispute that fact that slots/casinos change everything.
Proponents do not call for a balanced independent cost-benefit analysis of short-term and long-term impacts....why not?

Friday, November 6, 2009

MASC misguided?

Dear Monson School Committee Members:

It has been brought to my attention that the MASC has proposed endorsing slots/casinos in the Resolutions to be deliberated upon at the upcoming November 18-21, 2009 conference, page 25.

There must be an egregious misunderstanding of the fiscal impacts of slots/casinos upon the state and local budgets by the MASC board members to consider putting this issue before the delegates. No state with legalized slots/casinos has solved their budgetary and educational needs through legalizing predatory gambling. I am guilty as charged in the recent letter in the Journal Register by a Palmer resident of my "excessive use of statistics" to support my research findings which conclude that these businesses are long-term economic drains on entire regions and the state. The state of California released a report documenting 1Bilion dollars per year spent by taxpayers for the costs associated to slots/casino gambling. $4.5 Billion dollars per year are taxed to Australian citizens for the costs associated with slots/casino gambling as reported in their government's recently released 10 year impact study of slots/casinos.

In the Spectrum Gaming report commissioned by Governor Patrick and funded by taxpayers ($189,000) the only community featured, of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, was the Town of Monson. I was asked by the industry "experts" to provide information on the impacts to education. The report highlights the irrefutable negative fiscal impacts. The report failed however, to extrapolate the potential negative impacts to the entire Commonwealth and provide a statewide cost-benefit analysis.

No legislation has been crafted that provides sufficient mitigation to the municipal and education impacts to the regions affected. No legislation has been crafted that includes representation of impacted districts as decision makers. The proponents only discuss one side of the balance sheet. Public education in Massachusetts cannot afford to take a myopic position on this issue.

Simply put, there is not enough revenue generated to the state by slots/casinos to offset the costs.

The Western MA Casino Task Force's
(comprised of 15 communities in the Quaboag Valley and founded by the Monson Board of Selectmen) top recommendation is an independent cost-benefit analysis of the slots/casinos proposals before expanding any gambling in the Commonwealth.

More disheartening is the apparent ignorance of the MASC board to the impacts of expanded gambling upon youth. I believe that there may be many well intentioned people who are unaware of these issues. Young people including young adults, are cognitively and emotionally underdeveloped to discern between the allure of gambling and the risks. Youth are the highest risk group for gambling addiction. The executive director assured me that this is a normal process for the delegates to consider potential revenue streams. I asked if the executive board would be interested in learning more about the long-term costs to taxpayers, impacts to municipalities and education. He said he didn't know.

I was wondering this morning if the MASC would consider a Resolution to have state sponsored doubling of alcoholism and paying more taxes to support the devastation, while not garnering any additional funds to improve education? Does that sound absurd? Of course it does and yet it is the same model as legalizing state sponsored predatory gambling slots/casinos.

Let's hope they learned from the MTA's mistaken endorsement of the bogus job and revenue projections in the Governor's legislation.

Please contact the Executive Director and MASC Board Members to voice your objection to this wrong-headed proposal on behalf of our community and the future of education funding.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Misinformational Gambling Forum

Save the Date
Misinformational Gambling Forum
Monday, November 9th

Following a disappointing reception at last week's predatory gambling hearing where Statehouse News declared that "casinos are not a done deal", proponents backed by deep pocketed special interests and lobbyists are seeking to sell their one-sided proposals to their peers (again).

Despite the clear evidence that revenues are down and no independent cost-benefit analysis has been conducted by the Administration or the Legislature, some parties still insist that temporary construction jobs for the minority, doubling problem and addicted gambling (with associated legal, medical, family and social costs) for hundreds of thousands, instituting a permanent expansion of government with a permanent tax subsidy for slots/casinos is a good idea. All this and more expenses during a time of brutal state, local and personal financial losses.

Apparently, proponents have not read the CT DORS report (June 2009) that details the negative impacts to the entire host region where the predatory gambling casinos are sprawled. Apparently, proponents have not read the Aussie report (October 2009) that details the tax costs of $210 US dollars to every Australian adult in the country to fund the impacts of slots "pokies"/casinos. Or, that 80% of the population want to rid the country of slots "pokies"/casinos.

Apparently, proponents have not heard that a casino consultant for Suffolk Downs testified at the June 2009 state senate informational hearing that the markets to borrow (for large capital projects) are essentially closed and that cash flow is down, which means those big license fees are as overinflated as the job figures.


The above post is a spoof on the email sent to Legislators by proponents of predatory gambling.