Left In Lowell

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April 4, 2010

Will Lowell’s Delegation Have Integrity?

by at 9:30 pm.

If you’ve been a reader of LiL for a few years, you know that I stood very strong against allowing casino gambling resorts. The matter is up once again in front of the legislature, in a worse form than the last, and instead of being opposed by this Speaker (as the last one did) it is being championed, and DeLeo claims this time it will pass, and with a veto proof majority (Gov. Patrick is on record as being against slot parlors).

They are doing this with no public hearing, and no independent study to refute the pie-in-the-sky claims of the proponent of gambling (who use studies produced, bought and paid for by gambling companies).

The math of these so-called studies never added up, and don’t take into account a slew of factors, like the cost to the state of mitigating the known increase of gambling addiction in a 50 mile radius, the cost of more police, crimes in our state due to gambling addiction, courts, and the loss of small businesses in the area of a casino (and hence, tax revenue) - as well as a loss of revenue from the lottery as well. Slot parlors (which DeLeo is pushing, as he has former race tracks in his district) have none even of the charms of resort casinos (which would a piddly smattering of mostly poor-paying jobs and some temporary construction jobs). We have also seen our neighbor states’ slot parlors and some casinos go bankrupt in the last few years, many of them requesting help from the the state to bail them out. Under any measure, casinos and slots are the least useful ways to produce revenue for the state in the long run. They don’t produce anything, and suck money away from communities that could be spent here. The costs go up over time, and generally, revenues go down as casino owners lobby for decreased taxes (and once here, they have the state by the balls).

Hey folks, if something looks to good to be true, then you can bet…the House always wins.

In the previous vote on the Governor’s casino proposal, all three of our state Representative delegation - Nangle, Golden, and Murphy - voted to kill the bill (a yes vote sent the bill back to committee to die). I applaud them for this. The bill died a very hard death, going down 108-46.

Now it appears a huge number of these legislators are ready to flip flop on their previous vote, because the powerful Speaker of the House tells them to (if DeLeo’s claims about his chances are actually true).

I call on our legislators to remain strong against casinos. If the previous bill looked suspect, this bill is even worse, and not good for our state. At a minimum, we should take the time to get a truly independent investigation on the real costs of casinos or slot parlors in our state.

If you think Beacon Hill is corrupt now, just wait until it is trying to protect gambling interests because we’ve become addicted to the revenue.

Please call your legislator and tell them to oppose this bill, or at the very minimum, demand an independent study to look at the truth behind casinos and slot parlors. You can get their info here. Why are gambling proponents afraid of an independent study?

28 Responses to “Will Lowell’s Delegation Have Integrity?”

  1. Lowell Resident Says:

    If anyone thinks that the Lowell Guys (especially Murphy and Nangle) been voting a certain way because “The Speaker tells them to” then you havent really been paying attention at all since DeLeo became Speaker, have you? They voted with Sal because they were in leadership. If anything that was the vote that was compromised. They owe pretty much nothing to DeLeo. They are more free to vote however they wish this time around. I love how its being spun that all the reps really want to vote against this but DeLeo is making them vote for it when it reality there was probably an equal if not more people in favor of it last time who killed it because of the previous Speaker.

  2. Lynne Says:

    That may be true, but that doesn’t mean changing one’s vote isn’t hypocrisy. Because it is.

    So, what’ll it? Consistency with a previous vote, or being a hypocrite?

  3. Gerry Nutter Says:

    Why is it hypocrisy if circumstances have changed and a Rep. changes their mind? Are we in the same financial place we were a few years ago or are we in worst shape?

    Is Gambling the solution…probably not but are we not losing millions of dollares to CT. and are we not faced with losing millions to NH if we don’t act?

    I have no issue if a Rep. changes his vote if he does so because he either beleives that it will create some jobs and revenue or if the people he represents have told him they support it.

    Was Gov. Patrick hypercritical when he wanted to hire Marion Walsh but changed his mind when the public was outraged? Was it hypercritical to give welfare people cars and then cancel the program due to public outrage? Sometimes you have to change your mind.

  4. Lynne Says:

    We’re not losing millions of dollars to CT. What we’d be doing to put casinos in MA is to create more, new problem gamblers within the area of the casino, and 80-90% of the profits of casinos come from something like 10% of the population (the problem gamblers). That means, the state would be in the business of harming its citizens, indirectly, so they can get moola for the budget. That’s not why I vote people to go to Beacon Hill.

    So why did they vote differently before? We were in somewhat of a fiscal difficulty at the time - certainly, that was the argument at the time, “we need more revenue.” The math about casinos hasn’t changed - the math of the proponents is VERY suspect. So why rush this through and not know what the *actual* costs of this venture would be? If they don’t do that, then yes, they are either hypocrites, or just cynical do whatever the Speaker tells me?

    Why are they afraid of a REAL independent study??

    Once we get these things, we’re stuck. Look at RI.

  5. Right In Lowell Says:

    The state is in the business of harming citizens when they collect on alcohol and cigarettes but that doesn’t stop them and shouldn’t.
    People can make their own decisions… yes, democrats, I know it’s anathema to your “we know better than you do what is good for you” beliefs but they really can do it.
    I don’t like casinos or the atmosphere but I can make up my own mind on whether I can afford it or not. If the majority of the public wants casinos, then the elected officials should give them casinos.

  6. Lynne Says:

    This is very very different. First, the state taxes cigarettes to increase the cost of cigarettes to DIScourage people from smoking. That is not the case with gambling. Second, there is a terrible corrupting influence on the state once big gambling interests come in. Once the state gets addicted to this revenue, that’s it folks.

    Thirdly, it’s a VERY poor revenue source. It looks all ponies and light when you ignore most of the factors that cost, BUT the costs to the state increase over time, as blight, crime, and problem gambling ramp up, but the revenues typically go down (bankruptcy seems to be common with slot parlors and casinos, then they ask the state to bail them out), and as the casinos/gambling interests lobby for lower taxes - which they almost always get.They threaten to leave the state if they don’t get what they want, so the state winds up giving them what they want. And not to mention the lost revenue from small businesses going out of business in the area of the casino, which inevitably happens. No thanks.

    Look, I’ve carefully weighed everything I possibly could on this issue. When it came up last time I was agnostic. But the more I learned about the casino industry, the purposefully addictive machines, and the pie in the sky projections from casino lobbyists which, when you look carefully, are just far too crazy to be true - the less I liked the idea, in fact am now vehemently opposed now. They are a bad deal for the state! If you believe the casino lobby on the revenue gain, then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. DeLeo thinks we’ll almost as much money as VEGAS! Come on!!!! Get real!

    Again I ask, if it’s so obvious that casinos/slot parlors are so great, then WHY are the proponents afraid of an independent study on the issue? They are trying to ram this through without thought or real hard facts.

  7. Brian Flaherty Says:

    I’m with you on this one Lynne. It seems that DeLeo is determined to cram this down our throats (i.e. no public hearing, a floor vote next week). This will be a basis of who I vote for in the fall

  8. -b Says:

    I am heading to Mohegan Sun in two weeks. I will probably spend $500 while I am there. I would much rather spend the money in Mass, but I don’t have that option.

  9. ned Says:

    If the state really wanted to make gambling revenue, they’d ditch the tired casino/slot parlor model and figure out how to add sports wagering to the lottery menu.
    Delaware, while being one of the few states federally allowed to participate in the practice, just added it for this upcoming fall.

    That means less backroom bookmakers, and less money heading to offshore books in the Caymans.

    The state can put limitations on wagering to help keeps the out-of-control fruits that Lynne is so concerned about, in check. Also, by utilizing the current lottery system, the profit distribution program is already in place.

  10. Lynne Says:

    -b - it’s not you that is the problem here. Casinos make 90% of their profits from 10% of problem gamblers. You create NEW problem gamblers when you bring in a casino into their backyard and they have immediate access to it.

    My aunt makes occasional trips to the casino, and LOVES it. Back when Patrick initially intro’d this, I asked her (she lives in NH) what she thought about having a casino closer. “Nooo!” she told me. “I don’t WANT it any closer.” She knows she’s rather easier to get addicted, that she likes gambling too much. But she likes the fact that it’s far enough away in CT that she CAN’T go every month, or multiple weekends a month.

    Now, granted, my aunt would likely resist going every weekend even if a casino were built within 50 miles of her house, but again, this is a major part of the issue - the people who wouldn’t be able to. We don’t need this in our state. It causes more problems and costs us way more in mitigating those problems (and decreased revenue from failed local businesses and reduction in lottery sales), than it’s worth. The revenue projects are WAY overblown (in fact DeLeo and Co had to apologize for literally cooking the books on the revenue projections of this bill)

    I go and spend $1000 when I’m on vacation in Montreal, and I don’t see anyone complaining that I’m spending money out of state and need to recapture it. Some things, we don’t need. For the $50-100 you’ll be giving to CT in tax revenues from (probably) losing your $500, CT has a LOT more headaches to worry about as well. I’m not against you going out to a resort casino. But as a money maker for the state, the math is shaky, and the problems just too great over the long haul to make it even practical, nevermind the moral and corrupting issues.

  11. Ned Says:

    Lynne, stick to the math and leave the “moral, and corrupting” part out of it. The 10% problem gamblers are gambling regardless of how long their commute is. Odds are that number remains the same regardless how many casinos you open…assuming you understand exactly what defines someone as a problem gambler.

    As I stated above, I agree that casinos are not a solid answer, and the numbers will never add up to the projections…but I fail to see any reason why the state has some moral obligation to protect the folks who can’t control themselves.

  12. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I thought I read where she specifically said “…nevermind the moral and corrupting issues.”

    Isn’t ‘nevermind’ code for ‘leaving out’?

  13. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Also I think this is hard to defend:

    “Odds are that number remains the same regardless how many casinos you open…”

    Are you seriously saying that aggregate gambling will be constant in a given area regardless of ease of access to gambling establishments? That sounds absurd on its face.

  14. Jack Mitchell Says:

    The moral arguement….

    I wonder, why casinos and not whore houses, if we are not in the “moralizing” business? And if we choose to go the whole “Laconia Weekend, Libertarian,” let’s have us some opium dens.

    Awesome! We could shut down Copenhagen.

    Unfortunately, prositution is a toothpaste which is hard to put back in the tube. And there are real concerns about human trafficking, ect…
    Drug use, well, that is a Pandora’s Box. No one would really know how that would go.

    But it is all the same argument. “Sin” based enterprise.

    I do not favor prohibition. That does not mean it is a bad idea. We live in America. If you want it, ask the Concierge.

  15. outsider Says:

    Times have changed, the Reps should re-think this and Vote in Favor of Casinos

    Once again Lynne you start by attacking someones Integrity because someone “May” change their mind ?

    Have you ever changed your mind on an issue or a politician that you once supported or didn’t?

    Where is the “New” State Senator on this?

    After reading the coronation on this site and the Lowell Sun — We should at least know where Eileen Stands?

    Leave the angry attacks and stick to facts.

    It is not going to solve any of our financial issues

    But for the State or any elected official not to pass it because of Moral Objection —–

    Give me a Break !!!

    Maybe any legislator that votes NO should also file a bill to get rid of the Lottery?

  16. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I certainly don’t mind when people change their minds. Hopefully they do so when evidence or circumstances change. I don’t really see either being much different here. The math is still the problem.

    Now it is true that, even with the math still being a problem, the circumstances have changed only superficially and not in a way that mitigates any of the reasons for voting no the first time. They may have changed enough superficially to provide cover for those who want to change their minds for politically opportunistic reasons, but that’s a gamble that the voters wont notice.

  17. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Also, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from asking Donahue her position yourself. Please do and do your blogger-citizen best and report back.

  18. Lynne Says:

    Ned - you’re wrong, studies show NEW problem gamblers arise when access is local and within a 50 mile radius. That’s just what happens. Let CT have it in their backyard, again, what are the costs and why can’t we have an independent investigation to determine them? Why is the Speaker fluffing up the revenue projections, and no one is talking about the rising costs will WILL occur if we have casinos?? What are proponents afraid of??

    Oh, boo hoo, outsider. I didn’t attack their integrity as of this moment, I asked if they would have some and be consistent. Nuff said. I think the Reps can take it, maybe you can’t but you aren’t the elected official.

    Personally I wish we’d never had the lottery, but hey - we’re addicted to the revenue so now we’re stuck. Same thing will happen with casinos, except now we’ll have a casino lobby in the state which is a huge corrupting issue.

    The FACTS about casinos are what make them a bad deal. Go do some research on it.

  19. outsider Says:

    O’ my the powerful Oz has spoken !

    Your addicted to the revenue so don’t get rid of the lottery and your vs casinos because it is going to ruin the moral fiber of our communities and create junkies/hookers/gamblers —- makes a lot of sense (ever been to a store where the lottery is sold?)

    “FACTS” depend on who is telling the story — you choose to listen to one side — I choose to listen to the other.

    Booo hooo Its called an opinion

    I hope these guys change their mind

    Maybe the more fun loving Mr. Outsider will come to my defense.

  20. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Who on the other side are you listening to?

  21. Lynne Says:

    Facts are facts. You can choose to ignore them, but they are still facts.

    The facts are, the math doesn’t add up. I’m not talking about the moral issue. Though I think what the casino industry does is despicable and reprehensible and our state should have nothing to do with promoting this. What I’m talking about is the practical, revenue-vs-cost issue. States with casinos have worse budget problems than we do, even. Allowing casinos has not helped them one bit, and has harmed whole communities - NOT just addicted gamblers, whole communities who’ve lost businesses (jobs) and have contended with serious blight. Many of these states are having their casinos/slot parlors beg them to bail them out! We will be there in 10 years if we do this.

  22. wouldntyouliketoknow Says:

    people are going to gamble and i’d rather have the MA gamblers do it here than travel to CT. just because there’s not a big casino with flashing lights in MA doesn’t mean that people aren’t gambling their money away on the phone with calls to their bookies :) , if people have the urge to gamble they’ll find a way, regardless of convenience.

  23. Ned Says:

    “Are you seriously saying that aggregate gambling will be constant in a given area regardless of ease of access to gambling establishments? That sounds absurd on its face.”

    Yeah banana….I guess it’s absurd to assume that people outside of the “10% problem gamblers” might also find their way to the new conveniently located casino. My bad, carry on Mr. Lynne.

    The definition of “problem gambler” in and of itself is ridiculous…hardly seems measurable. Obviously the number of “gambling” issues would increase, while one might also assume that number of gamblers excercising self control would also increase….therefore, one might also assume the “10% of the population (the problem gamblers)” would likely remain at 10%. I can send you and Lynne my yellow scratch paper if you want check my math on that one.

  24. Mr. Lynne Says:

    I’m sure that ‘problem gambler’ could be defined to be meaningful in a statistical analysis - for example perhaps ’spending more than 20% of income when income is less than twice the poverty level’ or some such definition. I’d assume that these terms would be defined in any study.

    I haven’t reviewed the studies and critical responses in the detail that Lynne has (I can attest that she’s done an enormous amount of homework on this) but I assume the studies she’s referred to also define terms.

    If you really want to see some comments from someone who’s done even more homework on this I’d recommend Ryan’s Take. For example:

    Just to set the record straight, we’re a few days into this latest bonanza and the proponents are already forced to back off their claims by 75% in embarrassing fashion. …

    …the hit to the state lottery system is supposed to be about 10% — which amounts to $100 million a year. To offset that, we’re already at only $250 million in state revenue, under the Speaker’s wildly optimistic bill, without even beginning to address:

    * The costs of the regulatory agencies.
    * Mitigation expenses for problem gamblers, regional nonprofits, businesses, schools, services or communities.
    * Losses from tax revenue in regional businesses and how that would impact the state budget.

  25. Ned Says:

    Not to continue to beat this, as we both agree that casinos are not the answer, but the reason I say “problem gambling” is difficult to quantify is because some problem gamblers actually win money. And some problem gamblers (paging Charles Barkley) have a household income that you or I will never see…unless LIL starts selling ads of course.

    I guess my point is that the argument against Casino’s is strong enough without the need to assume that we’re all going succumb to the urges and burn our diaper money on blackjack.

  26. Lynne Says:

    Well, actually you just illustrated the problem. The problem is not largely blackjack, or poker, or most of those things. The problem is slot machines.

    You will not get ahead and “win big” if you are addicted to slots. Sure you’ll win occasionally, but you’ll put it right back into slots. The slot machines are insidious - studies show just how addicting they are. They are made to suck you in and keep you there, spending all your money. They are created to be addicting, like cigarette makers putting formaldehyde in their product to increase the addiction levels.

    See: this Globe article which cites some of the issue.

    But in 15 years of clinical experience, Breen has found that gambling descends into pathology much more quickly among slots players than among people who bet on sports, races, cards, or lotteries.

    It tends to take just a year, as opposed to up to five for other types of gambling, said Breen, who has published two studies that analyzed more than 200 addicted patients.

    It is not only the speed of the games that makes so addictive the playing of new-style electronic gaming machines, which include video lottery and electronic poker games along with high-tech versions of traditional slots. The machines produce a highly intense and continous experience for players, said Natasha Schull, an MIT professor who has studied the machines, their designers, and their players.

    There is no waiting for the horses to run or the wheel to stop spinning, she said. And the machines have been cramming more and more betting possibilities into each wagering moment, so that a nickel machine might actually allow 100 bets of a nickel at one push of the button.

    “It’s like playing 100 machines at once,” she said.

    Brain studies have shown that gambling causes the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical that spurs the desire to repeat a pleasurable behavior and that is involved in drug addiction. The pleasure comes not just from winning, but from the process of playing and anticipating a possible win.

    Overall, there are perhaps 30 different ways in which electronic slot machines keep players playing, Griffiths said, including their use of lights, colors, “ka-ching!” sounds, familiar television characters such as those in “The Simpsons,” and rapid-fire payouts. “It’s the kitchen-sink approach,” he said.

    One trick: Though the machines generate their winning or losing combinations randomly, they also tend to be programmed to make it look as if players have a great number of near-wins, said Roger Horbay, president of Game Planit Interactive, a Canadian company that develops educational tools to prevent problem gambling. “You get the impression your odds are good, you’re about to win,” he said.

    Horbay, a former addiction counselor, and Breen both say that slots gamblers they have treated tend to differ from other gambling addicts, who often have preexisting psychiatric or life problems that put them at risk for addiction.

    After slot machines came to Ontario, Horbay said, “what stuck out for me was that a lot of these folks had never had a problem before they met a machine.”

    And take a look at this:

    Experts on pathological gambling have shown that the prevalence of this disorder is linked closely to the accessibility and acceptability of gambling in society. Like alcoholism, just a small percentage of Americans are susceptible. As more people try gambling in its various forms, however, more of those prone to the illness are exposed. So, the more legalized gambling a state makes available, the more pathological behavior is triggered. Fast-paced gambling, which maximizes the number of wagering opportunities (like casinos and video gambling machines), also maximizes gambling addiction.
    In 1976, a national commission found that 0.77% of the adults in the U.S., about 1,100,000 Americans, were pathological gamblers. Today, the situation is far worse.

    In Iowa, the legalization of casinos more than tripled the addiction dilemma. A study released in July, 1995, found that 5.4% of the state’s adults (roughly 110, 000 residents) are lifetime pathological or problem gamblers. Before riverboats came to the state, 1.7% of Iowans fell into this category.

    In Louisiana, four years after the state legalized casinos and slots, a study found that seven percent of adults had become addicted to gambling. In Minnesota, as 16 Indian casinos opened across the state, the number of Gamblers Anonymous groups shot up for one to 49.

  27. ned Says:

    Thanks Lynne, but I didn’t need a Globe Article to tell me that slots are for suckers;) So are scratch tickets, NCAA pools, and fantasy football leagues for that matter.

  28. nextyearishere Says:

    BOSTON — The House of Representatives voted overwhelming last night to legalize resort casinos and slot machines in Massachusetts, a seismic shift from just two years ago when the proposal went down in defeat.

    The vote, 120-37, marks the first step toward the largest expansion of gambling in the state since 1971 when the Legislature approved what has become one of the most successful Lotteries in the country.

    All Greater Lowell lawmakers, with the exception of Rep. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, voted in favor of the plan.

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