1,250 Slots for Tewksbury? Oh my!

With all the activity around home and the Democratic convention, I have been a laggard about my blogging. The recent “out of the blue” proposal for a slots parlor in the town of Tewksbury – in fact for a site just down the road from my North Tewksbury home – has gotten me back on track. As a reminder – the State Gaming Commissioners will be selecting one site for a slots license from five proposals. So far the other four sites in contention are in Leominster, Millbury, Plainville and at Raynham Park. The plan for Tewksbury is on the agenda for tonight’s Tewksbury Board of Selectmen’s meeting. The speed with presenting the proposal is alarming but the gaming gurus want the five possible host communities agreements signed by July 26, 2013.  Yes – that’s just about ten days away!

The Worcester Telegram has an article giving some preliminary information about the slots applicants and their “corporate” backgrounds that you can check out here: http://www.telegram.com/article/20130715/NEWS/307159867/1116.

According to some local on-line articles and some rumors – the $200 million project would include 1,250 slot machines as well as other amenities to be located on a 30-acre parcel adjacent to Ames Pond  on Rte. 133 and nearby the off-ramp from Rte. 495. Regular commuters out Rte. 133 will be familiar with the area beyond the Cracker Barrel Restaurant on the south side of the well and heavily traveled road.

The Tewksbury Patch has an article that asks readers for their opinions and comments. The reactions are mixed as expected but with the majority on the “No” side. One comment in particular caught my attention. Area resident Karin Theodoros Zaroulis has a thoughtful view to share. She notes a variety of serious impacts to the site, the greater neighborhood and the town while posing questions about the “rewards” and noting elements of our Master Plan. The whole article with comments can be read here: http://tewksbury.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/will-you-support-a-slots-parlor-in-tewksbury.

Karin Theodoros Zaroulis’ comment  follows:

In answer to the question, will I support slots? The answer is No.  Will I ever support any elected official who votes for such a use? The answer is NO.  I will never support any elected official who votes for such a use. In fact, I  may just run against them…  I have lived in this area since 1995. I KNOW that parcel was zoned as an office park, not a gambling facility. White collar salary levels for Tewksbury Residents were anticipated. Two entirely different things. I wish to point out, that although the applicant offers lip service jobs and boosts to outside businesses, this proposal is for a “self contained” entity, with eating and sleeping accommodations provided on site. The goal of this INVESTOR is to keep the dollars on site.  Everything a gambler needs is on this parcel. Even if gamblers  DO leave, they have no need to go further that the National Chains on 133. Forget the local businesses on 38. How would anyone get to 38 from this Ames Pond Location anyway? Via North Street? Trull Brook Road? How? There is not one thing here, other than mere lip service, to suggest that those long time local businesses along 38, who have been hanging in here and scrapping by since 2009 during a downturned economy will be benefitted by this. In fact they will be destroyed.  I also do not see how offering a bunch of minimum wage jobs will improve the socioeconomic status of the residents of Tewksbury . Are they promising $60,000/ year  min for everyone that works there? If not  do not even consider this.  As far as tax revenue goes, it’s the same for any business. It doesn’t matter what commercial use this parcel gets put to. The revenue to the Town will be the same. ( Meanwhile the demand on police will vary for sure!) Maybe the selectmen need to work harder to lure better, safer, businesses into town.  As someone who has lived here since 1995, given the residential growth that has occurred in this Ames Pond  neighborhood during the last two decades, I suggest that the best use here is that originally intended in the 1990’s master plan: a state of the art grocery store ( Now preferably organic for our kid’s benefit) with a state of the art drug store. Such a facility will not only draw ALL of North Tewksbury and possibly Belvidere, Lowell, but also the entire of West Andover, all the way to 93. The people who live in this area have quite a haul to get groceries, whether to Route 38 or to Main Street. I have no doubt a good Organic Grocery Store would really hit the spot here. Those of us nearby do not need a situation where our families are put at risk because out of Town gamblers and underpaid residents, who lose their life savings on slots, decide to try to recoup from the neighboring homes, before they hit the highway. As a home owner, this “slot parlor” proposal makes me feel the safety of my home and family nearby is seriously jeopardized. For people who are not familiar, please note this: In addition to all the expensive homes, there are 3 schools and one church within a half a mile of this parcel. One of those is  a KinderCare.  Another is nursery school. Any attempt to  introduce these types of parlors into a school and religious zone is deplorable.  The answer to that is also “No”. I direct everyone to the following link about the impact of slot parlors: http://www.telegram.com/article/20130507/NEWS

For full disclosure – I am not in favor of this proposal. The impact will be more negative than positive and the fall-out will spread beyond the Town of Tewksbury into Lowell, Andover and the environs.


11 Responses to 1,250 Slots for Tewksbury? Oh my!

  1. Renee Aste says:

    The spot has access to and from Lowell and Lawrence via public transit.Casinos are known to target the poor.

  2. Joe S says:

    A slot parlor is a loser for an area. 85% of the money going into such a facility comes from the surrounding area. You can bet that the amount being returned to the area is a very small percentage, when considering the amortization of the capital expense, the State cut on such a facility, and the profit to be raked by the owner. So 85% money in, maybe 25% money out to the area in the form of taxes and payroll – a net loss of 60% of the gross. This area is not wealthy enough to sustain that type of drain, and in the long run the people lose, as well as the current businesses that depend on them. The politicians may think it works, but that is only the public sector getting the net inflow of wealth – everyone else loses.

  3. Joe S says:

    A slot machine is expected to deliver $250 per machine, per day. That is the difference between the amount bet, and the amount returned to the bettor. With 1250 machines, the proposed facility should extract about $312,500 per day, or about $114M per year. If 85% of that is from area players, that would mean about $97M being taken from the local economy.

    How much of the $114M will be returned to the local economy in the form of jobs and property tax revenue? Not much! For starters, the MA legisaltion calls for 49% of this to go to the State, 9% of that to support the racetracks, and 40% to the State treasury. So there goes $56M! Then there is the debt service for a $200M facility, maybe about $15M. And then there is the profit, maybe another $17M. That leaves about $26M, or 23% of the revenue for potential “return to the community”. But not all of that goes to locals – if even 75% did, that would be less than $20M.

    So, $97M spent out of the local economy, $20M returned in the form of taxes and wages. Not a good deal!

  4. kad barma says:

    Good news is that you’re so closely aligned to the Democrat interests in Boston that have enabled such things to be proposed, that I’m sure you can get it stopped easily now that you realize that it’s nothing but a negative for Commonwealth communities…

  5. kad barma says:

    Marie, I’ve searched all your back posts for anything ever critical about the powers that be here, and have found nothing. Could you help me? Can you link me to anything you’ve ever said here or elsewhere that suggested the political hegemon running roughshod over local interests might need to be rejected politically, or at least resisted? All I ever read here is pro-D, including your posts chatting up GLAD. (Which is why I figured you had influence with those elsewhere in the state). Of course, if I’m wrong, I’m looking forward to all your upcoming posts that call the consequences of corruption (i.e. caving to gaming interests to grant license to this industry) into question, and suggest the proper voting alternatives. The way I see it, the Democrats have handed us this sow’s ear, and there’s no thread that seems possible to turn it into the silk purse we’ve been promised by our corrupt legislators who took the cash and gave us the shaft. Or do you see this issue differently?

  6. Renee Aste says:

    I have to share in Kad’s frustration, let’s be constructive about the problem that we are concerned about. It is what others have brought up as well.

    This post is from April 2010 from a blogger in Brighton.

    Sheep in the State House

    “I woke up to the news that seemed in the tank all week: the state House of Representatives voted, overwhelmingly, in favor of legalizing casino gambling and installing slot machines at the state’s race tracks.

    This follows a completely opposite vote in the same legislative body a couple of years ago, when the same legislative body was against legalizing gambling.

    What changed? “

  7. kad barma says:

    I don’t intend for my frustration and sarcasm to be misunderstood. This one is clearly the poorly anticipated result of all our casino-related back-room Capitol Hill dealings, and completely the province of the Democrats there, and the suggestion to take it up with them is not made in jest. GLAD and all the rest of the grass roots of the party seem universally opposed. Renee points out that even the party apparatchiks were recently universally opposed. Yet here we are.

    I will respect Jack’s likely observation that my refusal to join the party (ironically for exactly this sort of reason) means that I have voluntary reduced my ability to influence things at this level at this point in time. But I’m also a pragmatist, and I recognize that it’s the only real avenue available that is possible to do anything constructive about this. Gambling is being forced on us by folks who have taken their money, and now we have to deal with it.

  8. Joe S says:

    I think I agree with Kad on this one, as we are all responsible for letting this happen. Yes, it is alright as long as it is not in our backyard, as some of the wealth drained from the host community gets dispersed throughout the State in the form of better services and/or increased local aid. But with the casinos likely to site in the Boston metro area, SE Mass and Western MA, where else can money be extracted from the people – the Merrimack Valley is a fertile ground. Now that it could possibly land here we protest, and would rather see it located elsewhere – but what about the people of elsewhere?

  9. Marie says:

    I just posted this comment on my personal Facebook page:
    “Just an FYI on the casino/slots gambling issue and some who think we’ve gone NIMBY here in our area. Our longtime 2EM State Senator Sue Tucker and current 2EM State Senator Barry Finegold were/are adamantly opposed to casinos gambling and that legislation that passed in the Commonwealth. We in GLAD led by well-known DSC and GLAD member Tom Larkin were actively opposed to the legislation not just for our area but for the whole Commonwealth. Then and now we understood the fall-out. We still remain opposed for our area or elsewhere.”

  10. kad barma says:

    My suggestion would be for GLAD to invest time in opposition to statewide officeholders (who happen to be Democrats, and that’s the whole point) who rammed this down our throats. Partisanship is not fine when it results in these sorts of power plays at the expense of the (ironically predominantly Democrat) electorate. I, for my part, oppose these miscreants freely because I am unenrolled, but that doesn’t hurt them nearly enough to cause them to stop. More people need to exercise independent voting patterns so that this is not allowed to continue to happen. And, for the record, lest anyone misunderstand me for an apologist on behalf of Republicans, you can check out my ragging commentary on Cliff’s Right Side of Lowell Blog to see that I’m an equal opportunity BS-caller. We have too many corrupt legislators, too many knee-jerk partisan grass-rootsers, and not nearly enough voting going on. All three have to change if we’re going to save our region from exploitation and misery.