DeLeo Views Expanded Gambling Bill as a Victory in a Dreary Landscape

Thursday, September 29, 2011
By Josh Resnek

Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo is absolutely right when he predicts three operating casinos and a slot parlor online in this state will produce a strong new stream of tax revenue for the state, produce thousands of jobs – temporary and fulltime – and contribute to the well being of every city and town in the Commonwealth. This includes the Speaker’s hometown Winthrop and Revere, which he represents.

If a casino license is granted to the businessmen who own Suffolk Downs by the new gaming commission to be named, East Boston would be a host city, Revere, too.

A $500 million casino built on that 55-acre property would have a strong impact on the communities with a 20-mile radius of the casino. The three planned casinos would impact all the cities and towns in the Commonwealth as they are slated for a percentile return of gambling revenues into their city and town treasuries. In this respect, the casinos are akin to the Lottery.

So getting the legislation right was important.

“We got it right,” said DeLeo. “This was a very public process. It was an open process. The legislation in all its parts speaks for itself.

“This is not about me trying to bring a casino to my home district alone. It is about legislation that will contribute to the creation of jobs and revenue, entirely with the use of private investment money, in three distinct regions of the state,” he said last week during an interview.

He said the questions about casino gambling being raised in the Boston Globe aren’t whether or not it will succeed.

“For many residents of this state the ultimate question about casino gambling is whether they are for it or against it as a personal matter – other than for that – there is a great, shared and vast knowledge that we are providing the tools and the funding to deal with excesses that arise from expanded gambling. More importantly, the legislation provides a solid framework for social responsibility,” he added.

DeLeo said he is pleased with the legislation recently passed by the House and sent to the Senate for a discussion there before a vote expected at the end of the month.

Then it is on to the governor for his signature and the bill that will guide the state to casino gambling will have become a reality.

“All of us who worked hard to gain passage of the expanded gambling bill, and this includes Governor Patrick, believe casino gambling is panacea. It is not. Everything here will not be paved with gold because three casinos are operating in Massachusetts. I know this. I understand this. I believe the greater measure is that we need to create jobs here and to gain a new and powerful revenue stream. Casinos will do this without ruining society as we know it in Massachusetts. The taxpayers are not financing this. Private investment will pay for the casinos – and if by some quirk of fate they fail – it is private investor’s loss exclusively,” he added.

He said he is excited by the licensing process, which is likely to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for immediate deposit into the state treasury. Each of the three casinos is required to invest $500 million or a total of $1.5 billion according to the legislation.

The construction the facilities will employ electricians, plumbers, steel erectors, welders, laborers, architects, planners, painters, furniture suppliers and construction companies of every kind. The list is endless, he believes. And it includes suppliers, food purveyors, cleaning companies. Keeping a full service casino stocked and ready for business is a job that involves thousands and which costs hundreds of millions.

“The economic power of three operating casinos in this state is manifest,” he said.

DeLeo said Massachusetts had two insurance policies almost guaranteeing the success of three casinos here.

“They are called Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun,” he said. “It is a simple reality that people going there from Massachusetts by automobile or in groups on busses will never head there again if they don’t have to leave Massachusetts.”

Indeed.

“Casinos won’t solve all our problems,” he repeated for effect.

“With them we gain an important revenue stream and thousands of new jobs. I’m for that. My colleagues in government are for that and the governor is for that. The vast majority of people in this state are for that,” DeLeo said.

DeLeo said expanded gambling in Massachusetts would not destroy the fabric of the state.

“It is one of many initiatives that we have worked on during my speakership,” he said.

  • Winthropite

    Why can’t we have an independent cost benefit analysis done
    for casinos in Massachusetts
    before we go down this road?  Seems like
    a fairly easy and sensible thing to do before making a change this
    profound.  I’m afraid that this actually
    will not be good for us or the state in general.  Studies have shown that the impact is
    generally negative across the board. 
    That is, except for the people connected to the gaming industry who will
    make a lot of money.  They have less
    interest in our neighborhoods than we do. 

    Data in these areas has shown:

    -Crime goes up in communities that host Casinos (Minnesota)

    -Drunken driving fatalities and accidents increase (Connecticut)

    -Home values decline (New
    Jersey)

    -Casinos are bad for local businesses (New Jersey)

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