Economist Edward L. Glaeser hit the target in his May 30 op-ed “Slots parlor is too risky for Worcester.” He outlined the reasons Worcester should walk away from a slots deal: few good local jobs, increased addiction and its attendant taxpayer-funded social problems, and lack of long-term investment in human capital needed for sustainable economic development. My question is simple: Given these issues, why is a slots parlor, or a casino that depends on slots for its profits, good for any community?
The Massachusetts casino law was sold to the Legislature with misleading information and false promises. Do we really believe that all that revenue was going to obviate the need for tax increases in the foreseeable future? With a straight face, proponents argued that we were forced to legalize slots because the Native American tribes were poised to get a casino any day and they would not have to pay the state a dime. Then our trade unions partnered with the casino moguls to tout all the great jobs casinos would bring — but Massachusetts job indicators continue to outperform states that rely on gambling jobs.
One pattern characterizes the community debate that continues to unfold in cities and towns targeted for a gambling facility. The more citizens learn about slots and casinos, the more they decide to walk away. Citizen groups dig under, over, and around the hype and false promises. That is precisely why the legislation was cynically crafted so that only East Boston, and not the entire city of Boston, would have a vote on the Suffolk Downs proposal.
The writer, a former state senator, is working on a campaign to repeal the casino law.