BOSTON (CBS) – For the next four months or so, you will have ample opportunity to consider the arguments for and against casino gambling. But if you’ve been paying even casual attention to the long, tortured history of it around here, chances are you could walk into the booth and make the call today.
The arguments for a “no” vote against the casino repeal are fairly simple.
There is an unmet demand for decent jobs that don’t require a fancy degree or specialized training, and casino jobs fit the bill. The national average salary for a casino dealer is $32,000 to $58,000 a year, including tips, and the major casino players offer pretty good benefits to their workers.
There will be construction jobs when the casinos are built, service jobs thereafter, and so on. The casinos will return millions of dollars in badly-needed revenue to the state and the communities that host them. And if that money and those jobs don’t come here, they’ll likely go elsewhere.
The arguments for a “yes” vote to ban casinos are a little bit more complicated.
The claim in general is that the fallout from casinos – gambling addiction, people losing money they can’t afford to lose, cannibalization of local businesses, and a range of other unhealthy social fallouts – outweigh whatever benefits they provide. There’s a case to be made that we’ve missed the casino boom, and our casinos will eventually prove to be white-elephants, struggling to produce the promised benefits.
And there’s the philosophical case that this isn’t the way a humane, progressive society should go about funding itself.
It’s not an easy call. But I bet most of us are glad to get a chance to make it ourselves.
Because believe it or not, Beacon Hill doesn’t always know best.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: