By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – We legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts five years ago to bring jobs and investment to areas of the state that badly needed them.

So far, not so good.

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Just the one slots parlor in Plainville is open, producing revenues for the state that are well short of expectations. And Thursday, I watched the live stream of the Gaming Commission with amazement as they voted to reject a Brockton casino plan that would have infused $700 million in private investment into a starving local economy that’s lost an appalling 38-percent of its manufacturing jobs in the last three years.

Commission Chairman Steve Crosby had said the proposal from a well-established casino operator lacked the “wow factor.”

Commissioner Gayle Cameron made a big deal of the fact that the average salary in Brockton would be $42,400 a year, about ten grand less than comparable jobs at the Springfield casino.

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It was left to Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald, the newest member of what’s proven to be an earnest but hapless bureaucracy, to note that “bells and whistles” were not a mandate in the law, and that $42,000 salaries plus benefits would be a lifesaver for a city where 40-percent of children are disadvantaged, where local officials have literally begged the commission to approve the license.

Wondered MacDonald: Are we really prepared to say “Brockton, we’re sorry, you can’t have it?”

They voted 4-to-1 to deny the license. Leaving Brocktonians and the rest of us to wonder of these well-meaning people: what on earth do they think they’re doing?

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

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Jon Keller