Keller @ Large: What If Casinos Fail?

BOSTON (CBS) – For something that’s supposed to provide answers to some of our worst economic problems, casino gambling sure does raise a lot of questions, doesn’t it?

For instance: while there’s no question we have plenty of people who would love to grab one of the jobs produced by the casino bill they rolled out yesterday at the State House, just how many net permanent jobs would that produce?

The construction jobs involved, while certainly welcome, will all be temporary.

The permanent net job count will surely fluctuate depending on how successful the casinos and slot parlor prove to be, and how many current jobs are wiped out by casino competition.

Speaking of future success, it’s troubling how casino proponents dwell on accounts of the rich harvest of gambling dollars that have recently become outdated.

Watch Jon’s WBZ-TV report:

Between the recession and an oversaturation of gambling options, the casino industry is in a tailspin across the country, especially in the east, where Atlantic City is in its 35th straight month of declining casino revenues, and even the money machines in Connecticut are down sharply year to year.

And it takes about two minutes of searching on the web to come up with a fistful of stories about the boom in online and mobile gaming, two cutting-edge technologies that could quickly render the casino and slot parlor business models obsolete.

(Excuse me, “resort casinos.” As if anyone wants to visit a resort in Massachusetts during the late fall, winter and early-spring months.)

You can argue all you want about the impact of expanded gambling, the legitimate desire to keep those dollars here vs. the legitimate fear of undercutting lottery proceeds and existing tourism revenues, the social benefits of fresh economic activity vs. the social costs of gambling addiction and sleaze.

But if bringing the slots and the table games here isn’t going to deliver the greenbacks, why on earth do we want to do it?

Now there’s a question Beacon Hill ought to answer before we go ahead and roll the dice.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • f. mclaughlin

    You are as antiquated as the politicians from this state. Should we go back to horse and buggy while we are at it? Whether you make 10 million or 1 million, you still made money. The risk is on the casino owners and I’m sure you’ll see them lined up to get into this “losing proposition.”

  • Bills Cat

    If I thought for a minute casinos would REALLY help the State, it’d be an okay deal. But a quick look around says bad things. Atlantic City has beautiful casinos surrounded on three sides by slums. Reno and Vegas were founded by the Mob and never intended to ‘help’ anyone except them.

    Worth keeping in mind that modern casinos are just part of major corporations. Sure they’ll hire some local help to build the places, maybe. And even allow a some locals to work there, probably — but most will be related to somebody who knows somebody. Then they’ll bring in all their own dealers and croupiers and security from elsewhere.

    These corporations are NOT going to ‘train’ Harry from Hadley to deal black-jack or Betty from Braintree to deal Texas Hold ‘Em. Best MA can hope for is some wait-staff and maintenance jobs, the rest will be ‘company people’ from all over the US and Canada.

    Sure, the state will collect big taxes and all the money will disappear into that black hole known as The State House, never to be seen again by the working folks..

  • Great Idea, senator

    It doesn’t really matter how much money we give the State House – it will simply never be enough.

    But think of all the new state employees we’ll get with the commissions, police, oversight, rules, measurers, etc.

  • Bills Cat

    Geeze, I forgot all about the new “Gambling Commission” and the “Gambling Oversight Committee” and the “Casino Police Force.” Well, there goes any money that might have reached the actual streets of Mass. Back to the drawing board.

  • Mark

    As usual too little too late is the Mass Gov motto. They have been arguing about this for years. They should have been in place here years ago. While I’ll admit I don’t use the ones in CT (only for concerts) and I am dead sure any money made the Government will spend faster than it comes in (as usual). The politicians will now have a new source of illegal income to be garnered from all the contracts etc. It should make us all proud. I see Deleo gets some slots for his district too.

  • Stephen

    Yes it is happening later then it should of, but at least it looks like it is finally going to happen. The Casino owners are taking the risk not the state, the state can only win in this deal. Thousands of job, Millions of dollars going to the state with no investment being made, I think that is a great deal. Mass residents wont be giving their money to CT anymore and now NH residents can come down and spend the money they save on no sales tax and contribute to Ma residents for a change. This will also help the racetracks at Suffolk Downs and Plainridge. I am glad it is finally going to happen.

  • Same old - same old

    Whatever it takes to feed the bureaucracy.

  • Ron

    I think legalized gambling in MA is long overdue. People gamble, I would rather my gambling and entertainment funds be spent in MA than another state.

  • jaygee

    Jon, I have a funny feeling that you haven’t travelled down to either Mohegan Sun Or Foxwoods lately. While there may be many people hurting in this economy, there are ten’s of thousands who aren’t and many of them are leaving Massachusetts and heading down 395 to have a day of fun every single day of the week. Look what happened to this country because of Prohibition. There are millions who drink and millions more who enjoy casinos and I find that those who do neither, have a habit of trying to tell those who want to have a little fun in life that such actions are B-A-D. If we can keep corrupt politicians from ruining everything, I really do believe that the state can use the money, the unemployed can use the jobs & Puritanism will lose once again.

  • Bills Cat

    Good thought, Jay. Typically it’s the disgruntled ones who rail the loudest against things — don’t personally approve and dislike anybody who isn’t of the same limited mindset. Gonna happen sooner or later — heck every bar in town has a sports book and punch tickets — might as well jump before every state in NE gets ahead. Hey, maybe there will even be a few pennies left for the working folks after City Hall finds uses for the bulk of the profits…

  • response

    People thinking this will be the economic “qucik fix” this state needs, should take a closer look at the states that currently have casino’s.
    CT is in huge financial mess and is raising taxes on everything, taxing items that have never been taxed before.
    CA, NJ, and NV are in the same financial mess.

    • Cinque

      Don’t blame casinos for the “financial mess” that states find themselves. If it wasn’t for the money going to the state from casinos, they would be in much worse trouble. If we can have four daily drawings on the lottery, $1,2,5,10 & $20 dollar scratch tickets that offer little chance of winning, keno & the horse race game every 4 minutes of the day then I don’t think even one casino is going to hurt people any more than the Mass. State Lottery.

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