State Senate supports 3 casinos

The Massachusetts State Senate voted 25-15 for a plan that would establish three resort-style casinos in the Commonwealth. They’d be located in Boston, the western part of the state and in the southeastern part of the state. It’s estimated that the three casinos would create 15,000 new jobs and produce approximately $300 million in tax and fee revenue each year. Senators from this region that voted for the bill were Steve Panagiotakos (Lowell) and Ken Donnelly of Arlington (who also represents Billerica). Voting against the bill were Sue Tucker, Sue Fargo and Jamie Eldridge. The full results of the Senate vote are here.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has already passed its own casino bill but it contains significant differences, most notably it calls for only 2 casinos but it also allows slot machines at the state’s existing race tracks. The two bills now go to a conference committee to be reconciled. Despite their differences, I’m guessing that some compromise will be reached since there seems to be strong support for the concept and because of the attractiveness of the infusion of revenue derived from means other than a tax increase. This will all have to be done rather quickly since the legislative session comes to a close at the end of July and legislators will want to leave themselves plenty of time to override any veto the Governor may make if and when he signs the bill.

I’m ambivalent when it comes to casinos and state-sponsored gambling in general. Gambling holds no attraction for me, but many people I know truly enjoy visiting Foxwoods so who am I to judge how or where another person spends his recreational dollars. If they’re going to gamble, why not do it here within the Commonwealth so that the state can get its share of the money. That’s what I think every time I stop for gasoline or a coffee and see folks furiously scratching away at their lottery tickets. While they might win big (and there’s certainly entertainment value in harboring that hope), odds are they will lose and for every dollar they lose, it’s one less dollar I have to contribute to the state’s revenue, so it’s OK with me.

2 Responses to State Senate supports 3 casinos

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    That a casino development will pass as the legislature’s grad effort this year at Commonwealth job creation is cause for great worry. This is a state with an extraordinary education-innovation complex, with many leading research hospitals, biotechnology and medical devices companies and still some deep-pocketed venture capitalists in search of the dream deal. But our business incubator engine is stalled out; waiting for the next barrel of oil from the Gulf maybe?

    As hard as the state Senate worked to create the ‘perfect’ casino bill where is the even equal passion for serious thinking about long-term and sustainable jobs creation? Tax breaks to firms is not enough. Nor is an effort to roll back business taxes going to do any good. The evidence shows that innovation-based firms go where the skills, entrepreneurial know how, quality of life for their workforce, and expenditures on leading edge research exist.

    We have all of the above in the Merrimack Valley in abundance – what we lack is the creative zeal to pull some sort of structure together to get the synergies from the parts and pieces pulling together. For a model check out SPARK, a wonderful example of how to do it, which is located in Ann Arbor, MI. The longer we neglect the establishment of a serious group of individuals dedicated to rethinking how we generate well paying work around here, the longer it will take to truly recover. Out of work people do not send their kids to college, take canal boat tours, or plop down $35.00 for a Boarding House Park concert ticket!

    Happy Independence Day (from oil?)!

  2. JoeS says:

    I am also ambivalent about casinos. However, it is ludicrous to call them an economic development action. Yes, the State will get another source of revenue, but the great majority of that revenue will come from the citizens of Massachusetts, and a good portion of that will be returned to the equipment manufacturers who are out-of-state, and the casino owners. So the net effect is additional revenue to the State, less money in the hands of the citizens of Massachusetts. However, to the extent that much of this money currently finds its way to Connecticut anyhow, and some other outside money may find its way into Massachusetts casinos, the overall effect shouldn’t be too bad, except for those people who spend too much of their money with this new-found “entertainment”.

    I agree with Bob Forrant that we should consider the approach to economic development that has been followed by SPARK.