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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Just say no

Deval Patrick should call the Legislature's bluff and veto the casino gambling bill heading to his desk.

In the latest round of wills and egos, House and Senate conferees crafted a bill that will give House Speaker Robert DeLeo what he most wants -- job protection for workers in his district who labor at Suffolk Downs and Wonderland. That's because the district is likely to get both a casino and a slots parlor.

And that's called loading the dice.

Patrick offered a significant compromise on slots -- with several important caveats. He would accept one, competitively bid, if lawmakers also moved on a number of key pieces of legislation jammed up behind casinos.

Conferees chose to call on the bet and Patrick holds the cards because the session ends when the clock strikes 12 tonight.

And Patrick has more to lose than gain by signing the bill as is. For starters, the political fact is his careful efforts to sharpen his image as a leader crumbles if he goes for two racinos. Even if lawmakers give him everything else he wants, it will leave a foul taste in the mouth of Patrick's base.

Then there is a separate political fact: Union leaders may sit on their hands, but rank-and-file rarely vote with their leaders anyway. He doesn't have the union vote and the loss of labor help in canvassing and contributions could well be offset by a surge from a renewed base.

But finally, there is the financial fact:

On Wednesday, Moody’s Investors Services offered mixed news on the health of the industry. Yesterday, Morgan Stanley released a new analysis of the Massachusetts market, warning that the Legislature’s plan could over-saturate the Boston area, which is considered the state’s most potentially lucrative region.

Morgan Stanley estimated that a single destination casino in Boston would generate $600 million to $700 million in annual revenue, or about half the total potential gambling revenue for the state. But allowing two additional slot parlors would reduce that estimate by 35 percent, which would limit the interest of investors, the report said.

Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat and the Senate’s point person on gambling, agreed there is only a limited pie to divvy up among the gambling halls and that more venues is “just dividing the pie into smaller pieces.’’

DeLeo is stacking the deck in his -- and his district's favor. Bobby may win with jobs but the jury is still out for the rest of the state.

Signing the bill would be a sucker's bet. Just say no.

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Anonymous TruthtoPower said...

I would like to point out that the House and the Senate have based their revenue projections on gambling industry consultants promos that $1.8 billion will be spent (in addition to the $4 billion spent on the lottery) to garner the (fictitious) revenues that they espouse.

Looks like Morgan Stanley has some different ideas....half a million to $800 thousand dollars difference in monies spent. Which btw, legislative leadership, proponents and main stream media have failed to point out that only a small fraction of that revenue is captured by the state.

Either way there must not be a recession or folks are just hiding their dough under the mattress waiting for slot parlors and slot parlors with window dressing, aka casinos to blossom. The Legislative leadership wants 3 casinos, 2 slot parlors and two tribes casinos would become eligible to pursue tribal gaming.....hmm, that's lucky number 7 for the Baystate.

What does Morgan Stanley have to say about market saturation when NH, NY, RI, CT add (more) slots?

July 31, 2010 10:11 PM  

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