Gov. Patrick#039;s proposal stacks deck in state#039;s favor

by Beacon Staff • September 26, 2007

Patrick last week proposed a plan to the legislature involving the licensing of three major casinos across the state, with potential builders bidding for the rights.,If Gov. Deval Patrick gets his wish, Bay Staters who wish to gamble may no longer have to trek down to Connecticut's Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun.

Patrick last week proposed a plan to the legislature involving the licensing of three major casinos across the state, with potential builders bidding for the rights.

A Sept. 17 executive department press release gives justification for the plan, including the creation of "tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of new revenue for the commonwealth would be dedicated to road and bridge repair and construction and much needed property tax relief for more than a million Bay State homeowners."

These casinos can expect success due to high public demand and the recent federal crackdown on online gambling.

These casinos, sure to be hubs of commerce, would significantly increase the funds flowing into state coffers and help to close the funding gap in the budget, which Patrick predicted could reach $1 billion for the 2007 budget.

But these casinos cannot be built unless the proposal is approved by the legislature. This could be a tough hurdle to scale, as state House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has, time and again, expressed his opposition to casino gambling.

Augmented revenue streams are not enough to pacify those opposed to gambling, who, according to an article in The Boston Globe, believe "expanded gambling would create social problems and hook state political leaders on gambling revenues" and "change the historic and cultural character of Massachusetts forever."

The critics of the plan bring up legitimate concerns, but their insistence on keeping Massachusetts from moving forward could deprive the state of a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

The cultural character of Massachusetts-like that of all states-is continually changing.

It's called progress; without it the Pilgrims never would have come to Massachusetts in the first place.

And as for "social problems," one can only ask why the state feels it necessary to tell its citizens what is and is not acceptable.

People are perfectly capable of making their own decisions-and they have, taking nearly $1 billion of their Massachusetts-earned money across the border to Connecticut casinos each year.

In 2006, under their terms of agreement with the state, Connecticut's two casinos paid the state $427 million.

Wouldn't that money go a long way to combat "social problems" like substandard schools, high crime rates and lack of affordable housing?

In their July 22 issue, The Cape Cod Times reports that "Connecticut casinos haven't had much difficulty finding the help they need, with a goodly number of jobs going to recent immigrants."

And these new residents are just what Massachusetts needs. If the state's population continues to decrease, it could lose a seat in Congress in the next national census, decreasing its prominence in national affairs.

If the legislature fails to approve Patrick's licensing proposal, it will send a discouraging message to the people of Massachusetts, whose state the measure could greatly improve.

But this is a sobering and improbable thought: Patrick's plan should be passed. Failing to do so would be like playing poker and moving all in with a pair of twos.,Douglas P. Chase