Letter From Rep. Dan Bosley
This is an email receive by CFO President Jacquie in response
to an invitation to come to Middleboro. Rep. Bosley is a right thinking
individual who has studied this issue for 11 years.
Thank you for the email and the invitation to the meeting tonight in Middleboro. unfortunately I will not be able to make it. This really is a decision that must be made in Middleboro by people from Middleboro, but you should have some facts and get through all the rhetoric that has been thrown around by a lot of people. I will continue to oppose casinos on the state level, but what you people do in Middleboro is extremely important and I hope that you will see that this is not just abut money but about the future of your community and the state. I can site chapter and verse of how casinos are a zero sum game for the state. We, at best, break even in terms of money. However, a lot of that money is already being spent in our economy. The casinos transfer spending from other businesses (that close) and impact the lottery. They create expenses such as a gaming commission, increased law enforcement, and infrastructure expenses. They create more social problems and that costs us money as we cope with increased bankruptcies, domestic violence, and fraud, to name a few. In cases where other states have looked at this, economists who have studied increased gambling have said that if the states want to do this as a form of entertainment, they should enact gambling. However, if they see this as a form of economic development, they should reject it because it is not a way to increase economic activity. In fact, it is detrimental as it closes area businesses and siphons off discretionary dollars in an economy for an activity that has little positive "churn" on our dollars. For me, after eleven years of study, this is not a close call. There are states after states that have looked at this and for those who have embraced casinos, they have failed to generate an economic solution for themselves. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have suffered with budget problems after enacting increased gambling. New York is making less than half the promised revenue from slot machines. The casinos solution to this? Increase your gambling! It hasn't worked and is a bad deal. Many people point to Connecticut and state that we are losing gambling dollars that we may as well recapture if people are gambling anyway. Rhode Island thought the same thing and legalized slots at the race track in Lincoln. A University of Rhode Island study was done a few years ago that came to the conclusion that most people from Rhode Island that went to Connecticut continued to do so. The Rhode Island Casinos simply created a new cohort of gamblers that came from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The same will happen here.
For your purposes tonight, the issue isn't whether this is good for the state, but for your community. I would argue it is not a good deal. You may want to call the people from Ledyard, Connecticut to see how they feel about the casinos in their community. For all intents and purposes, there is no town of Ledyard left, at least not as it used to be. Think about this: you have a town of 20,000 people. The Tribe is predicting 40,000 people each day will visit their casinos! That will dramatically and forever change your town. If we are trying to recapture money sent to Connecticut we should use this as an example. The local police chief in Ledyard has said, in testimony a few years ago to my committee that even though many people leave the area after visiting his town, that the increased money hasn't been enough to handle their problems. We heard testimony form local businesses that said that the only reason people stopped at their businesses was to ask directions to the casino. Many of the local buildings and homes were bought by the tribe which has continually increased their footprint since the beginning of Foxwoods. People should be aware that once you let a casino into your community, they will continue to expand and you have little control over this. Look at Foxwood and the Mohegan Sun. They have been expanding since the beginning and the town is now beholden to them because their other sources of revenue have dried up as businesses leave. And it is easier to add land to the footprint of the original land in trust once the tribe gets on the ground.
Jacqueline, if this were a manufacturing business that suggested putting 40,000 cars into your area each week, never mind each day, the town would rise up against this. There is such congestion in your area from traffic presently, that this would be rejected out of hand. The strain on your water system in an area that will experience water concerns from population shift already is a serious consideration. Where will you put all the trash from this entity? What kind of rights will you have on this large casino if this land is put in trust? Do people know that once in trust this land falls under the jurisdiction of the tribe and not local law enforcement? Has anyone asked these questions and if so, have there been satisfactory answers? Has anyone looked at other areas that have allowed casinos? It is my experience that, while employment goes up, unemployment rates do not go down in these areas. That means that local people are not getting the jobs created or that more people are coming in to apply for these jobs. This has lead to an increase in school costs as well as a strain on available housing. When the gambling interests tell a town that it will make millions, that is only half of the equation. the other half of any cost benefit analysis is the cost. What will it costs us, monetarily and socially to get this money? You need to take a hard look at this. my sainted grand mother used to say that if something looked too good to be true, it probably was. For those who hope that this is a windfall for the town, they need to look very hard at this.
One final point: This is not a decision that is made in a vacuum. If the good people of Middleboro decide to vote in favor of this casino, others will also decide that they want a piece of the action. The track owners including Plainridge and Taunton want slot machines. We don't have a casino yet and already the other communities are asking for expansion. If you look at every other state, once this decision is made, expansion happens. in fact, look at our own lottery. We started off with one daily drawing 6 days a week and now have 35 scratch tickets out at any one time as well as a keno game that fires off every 4 minutes for most of the day as well as three biweekly games and a big multistate drawing as well as expansion of the daily number to Sundays. My point is this;,once you start it doesn't stop and we become more beholden to the gambling interests. This is dangerous economically, but also presents a problem locally. Most studies show that most gamblers to any casino come from a fifty mile radius. Those are our friends and neighbors who support the gaming interests. those are the ones that we see with increased numbers having compulsive gambling problems. Those are the ones we are relying on for our new found money to towns. it is not a windfall from far away, but just, again, a restructuring of our present dollars.
I have nothing against the native tribe and have applauded the federal decision to recognize the Wampanoags. I believe this gives recognition to them for their important contributions to our society and state. However, this is an important decision and I hope that people are not blinded by the money that is being offered the town. I believe that the dollars will not make up for the loss of community that you will experience.
Let me know how the meeting went. Thanks for the invitation and good luck
Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies