By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s always a good idea to be open to change. And sometimes, that means being willing to cut your losses and change course from pursuing a well-meaning plan that turned out to be a loser.

We may be approaching that point when it comes to casino gambling here in Massachusetts.

I attended part of Thursday’s meeting of the Mass. Gaming Commission and talked with chairman Steve Crosby about the latest numbers out of Atlantic City, the one-time East Coast gambling mecca that appears to be circling the drain. Every casino there saw a sharp drop in revenue last month, and the city is on pace to see its worst revenue numbers in more than 20 years.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

And I asked Crosby if that gives him pause about whether casinos here can really deliver on their pot-o-gold promises.

Of course they can, he said, noting that Atlantic City has been “cannibalized” by new casinos in neighboring states, a situation he called “unique.”

But it seems to me we’re in the same spot here.

Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York all have established casinos building a clientele. New Hampshire may well get there before we do as well.

Crosby claims that once we open our first casino, three or four years from now, we’ll start cannibalizing their business. Or maybe, not.

Maybe we’ll just draw the locals, not the out-of-state high-rollers we’d prefer to fleece. Maybe that will be a much worse drag on the local economy that anyone predicted.

And maybe we’ll wind up like Atlantic City, pouring millions into a desperate marketing push for survival.

Is it really too late to fold what might turn out to be a terrible hand?

That depends on how open to change we and our leaders really are.

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


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