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Keller @ Large: What If Casinos Fail?

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(File photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(File photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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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troubling how casino proponents dwell on accounts of the rich harvest of gambling dollars that have recently become outdated.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.

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