Divide Over Massachusetts Casino PlanPublished August 17, 2008 by OCR Editor
Three licensed casinos in Massachusetts would provide up to $700 million in state revenues, says a report commissioned by Governor Deval Patrick. The report, however, slashes the governor's job estimates.
Building three casinos in Massachusetts would allow the state to recapture up to $700 million of the $1.1 billion the state's gamblers are currently spending in Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to a report released by the New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group.
The 301-page, $189,000 report on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's proposal for three state-licensed casinos found, however, that his estimates regarding employment creation were inflated, with the analysis showing that the casinos would create about 15,000 permanent jobs, and not the 20,000 he projected.
In addition, the report found that the gambling establishments would generate 9,000 construction jobs - a far cry from the 30,000 once touted by the governor.
The report also strongly advises that the state include the Mashpee Wampanoag Native American tribe in one of the three casinos. Failure to include the tribe, the report says, could lead to the opening of a Native American casino under Indian gaming law and the undercutting of a commercial casino in southeastern Massachusetts.
While the report provides ammunition to both supporters and opponents of casino gambling in the state, with Spectrum warning that casinos would bring added "social costs" and that the state should expect a rise, for example, in drunken-driving arrests, it has also stirred talk that Patrick may be preparing to put forward another casino proposal next year. The governor saw his original three-casino proposal defeated in the statehouse in March by a vote of 108 to 46.
The state budget, meanwhile, has done from bad to worse since then, and Patrick administration officials, while not talking about their next move, are not ruling out anything. "I believe this analysis will prove valuable for future policy deliberations if and when the issue of expanded gaming in Massachusetts re-emerges," said Dan O'Connell, secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
The report, commissioned by the Patrick administration, said casinos were not recession proof, but concluded that destination casinos with the right amenities were still poised to be profitable in the long run.