|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 11/23/2011 : 05:27:34 AM
Massachusetts gets in the casino game
After all these years, Massachusetts has bowed to the inevitable: legalized gambling.
And, given that casinos have been operating for years in both Rhode Island and Connecticut, the decision by Gov. Deval Patrick and the state Legislature to enact legislation permitting legalized gaming represents a relatively small bet.
We don't much like the final piece of legislation, starting with the premise that three casinos and a slots parlor will be able to operate successfully in direct competition with other, established venues near our borders.
Massachusetts' new casinos might well recapture many or most of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Bay Staters are dropping at the casinos in Connecticut and Rhode Island. But there is every reason to suggest that it is far less likely the fledgling industry here will draw hordes of customers and their gambling dollars from out of state. Gamblers have plenty of options already and soon will have more when New York and New Hampshire decide to get in the game.
And that makes the $300 million in tax revenue assumptions, not to mention the overly optimistic employment promises that are behind the Massachusetts legislation, dicey at best.
New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang, along with most of the members of the local legislative delegation in Boston, has been smart to point out that, at best, casino gambling is just a piece of a puzzle that must be solved if the city is to create enough good-paying jobs for its population.
Unlike counterparts in Fall River, who jeopardized a new biotech park to pursue a partnership with the famously unreliable Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, New Bedford's leaders can best serve by making sure that whichever proposals land before the city will fit into the overall culture and economy.