BOSTON – In the four-way race for Massachusetts governor, Green-Rainbow Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, is the only person who opposes casinos in the Commonwealth. She references a casino with ‘predatory gambling.’ Jill Stein, a Lexington resident, believes ‘a casino is a job-killing machine.”
Her view is worthy of note. I would not discount her thoughts entirely. She is highly respected and a very intelligent woman. She offers a discerning look at the shortcomings of casinos.
The people of Massachusetts have deliberated passionately over the negative and positive aspects of building casinos in my home state. From my standpoint as a resident, it is certainly a way to generate much-needed jobs and revenue in the floundering Commonwealth.
However, part of me has to question the customary involvement of behind-the-scenes politics. Would casinos cause more harm than good? What are the alternatives then? How do we bring Massachusetts back to a healthy economy? In addition, should we, pay heed to Jill Stein’s warning?
Casinos a Response to Unemployment? – Not So Fast
According to Dr. Stein’s campaign website, she believes, “that a casino kills 1.5 jobs for every one it creates.” She also presents her feelings that a casino “…produces no useful products, but takes money out of our state economy.” If I understand her correctly, she is connecting this to casinos taking away from small businesses located near a casino.
I deduce that would depend on the type of business. When things are good, I visit Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos several times a year. Businesses I patron, located on either side of Foxwoods, thrive. I presume because of casino traffic.
On my drive into Foxwoods, which is literally in the middle of nowhere, in Mashantucket, CT, there is a Dunkin Donuts that I always patron. No matter what time of day or night I have stopped there, it is packed with people.
I highly doubt anyone would have invested the money to establish a Dunkin Donuts in this isolated region, if not for Foxwoods. With a bit of careful planning and some innovative thinking, I can honestly envision all kinds of small Massachusetts businesses riding the coat tails of a casino.
When you consider, too, the high price for food at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, it seems to me that smaller, cost-conscious restaurants in and around a casino, could make a large profit from people searching for something other than casino food. Casinos operate 24-hours-a-day. There would be no lack of customers in my opinion.
I can side with Stein’s observation that for every $1 collected by the state in gambling tax, “…$3 in social costs are imposed.” Social costs, of course, are the detrimental effects of gambling.
Based on what Stein calls ‘problem gamblers,’ she claims, “It is well documented that the profitability of casinos is dependent upon problem gamblers – people who lose more money than they can afford.” The result, in Stein’s view, brings crime, alcoholism, bankruptcy, absenteeism from work and divorce to name a few.
I like to gamble, but have no experience with it being an issue. Nor do I know anyone personally who has fallen prey to a gambling problem and the fallout of such an addiction. However, I am acutely aware that gambling can be a malevolent compulsion.
Frankly, I have no answer as to how to balance that part of the casino equation. I do not think anyone has that solution. I think Jill Stein is smart, though, to focus her and bring our attention, to, this unconstructive aspect of the gambling industry.
Casinos Offer More than Gambling
I have attended dozens of shows and concerts at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. I went to these events for the entertainment of the show. I may have dropped $20 in a slot machine, but my focus was to spend the evening enjoying Ian Anderson or getting lost in the fantasy world of Cirque Du Soleil.
Thousands of people in Massachusetts make the ride to Connecticut daily to spend money at the casinos. I would rather spend that money in my own state. What I find most alarming, though, is Jill Stein’s claim that Massachusetts casinos, “…puts Beacon Hill politicians in charge of a cash-rich business…,” which she feels “…adds another source of corrupting money to a political system that has thus far proven itself unable to resist temptation.”
Jill Stein’s Campaign Website
Maureen Turner, “Stein Stands Alone Against Gambling,” ValleyAdvocate.com