Governor, legislative leadership announce casino bill
By Christine M. WilliamsSpecial to The Pilot
The website for United to Stop the Slots in Massachusetts (USS Mass) says casinos and slots prey on the addicted, gaining the highest profits from the few who visit frequently and lose the most money. Somewhere between 70-90 percent of casinos' profits come from 10 percent of gamblers. Studies have shown that five years after a casino opens, the neighborhood sees an increase in robberies by 136 percent, aggravated assaults by 91 percent, auto theft by 78 percent, burglary 50 percent, larceny 38 percent and rape 21 percent. They have also shown that within a 50-mile radius, addiction to gambling doubles.
In Massachusetts, the new bill would establish three casinos in three different regions, putting nearly all of the state within 50 miles of a casino.
USS Mass president of the board Tom Larkin said a full-throated debate of the issues is necessary considering the irreversible consequences that will have long-term negative effects. The governor, along with the Senate and House leaders, has acted as if expanded gaming is a "done deal." All three have concerned themselves with how to implement Class 3 gaming, not whether or not they should.
Larkin said he is sure that the bill will sound very reasonable and include constraints to try to minimize the negative impacts. But he warned that such laws could be changed.
Government becomes addicted to gambling revenue, and the casinos become powerful lobbyists. In other states, restrictions on expanded gaming have been thrown out the window within years after the casinos are up and running, he said.
"There's no right way to exploit people, and there's no right way to collaborate with a predatory industry," he added.
Kristian Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said casinos are a losing proposition. They are destructive to families and a regressive tax on the poor. He said he hopes legislators will realize that and vote the measure down.
"I just hope that greed and confusion will settle," he said.
Mineau added that the casino bill's supporters, who crafted the legislation behind closed doors, want to push it through to a vote on the House floor as early as this month. Concerned citizens should act now, he said.
He and others urged voters to call the governor and their elected representatives.
Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling said, "We live in a country where everyone is a part owner in our democracy. What we own is broken, and it's up to each and every one of us to fix it."
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