There is no mention of the regressivity of this new source of state revenue – it hits hardest on households that are poor and uneducated. The majority of casino revenue is derived from the “grind market”, which consists of low-stakes, day-tripping casino visitors. There is no mention or consideration of how this form of revenue squares with liberal values – perhaps because it is directly opposed to them.
Now for the Globe’s hoopla coverage:
In the lead story “Governor predicts a jackpot” by Andrea Estes and Frank Phillips, we get a profile of the “advocates” for casinos:
His long-awaited decision was praised by advocates for casino gambling, including the potential bidders for the licenses, the labor unions that represent hotel and resort workers, trade unions, some municipal officials, and the state's tourism officials.
We’re gob-smacked by that.
And the big windfall for Massachusetts property owners:
He proposed a property tax credit that would range from $150 to $400 a year for qualified property owners and average about $215. Property owners who pay 2.5 percent or more of their income on property taxes would qualify for the credit. The average property tax bill in the state was $3,962 in the last fiscal year.
Casino revenue sharing represents a 5% cut in property taxes. Less, of course, whatever revenues your city or town government decides to preemptively extract from this. This size of tax cut will hardly change your life.
Here is the biggest laugh. A quote from Deval:
"We will regulate casinos vigilantly, professionally, and independent of politics," Patrick said.
Is there a single extant example of professional, vigilant and politics-free regulation anywhere in Massachusetts?
Another positive headline is “Market will support multiple-casino plan, state officials say” where reporter Sean P. Murphy writes on the auction license process:
The Patrick plan envisions giving an Indian tribe an advantage in the bidding, but details of how that advantage would be granted were not spelled out in the governor's proposals yesterday.
Yes. A racial set-aside within a revenue maximizing auction is a logical contradiction. No worries. It’s just one among many.
In “Debate on opening casinos in Massachusetts reflects new attitude” by reporter Peter J Howe, the reporter notes the success of Scottsdale Arizona, which has a new Indian casino. I’ve been there. It is a small gambling ghetto within Scottsdale’s plush borders:
"The reality is that there are negative consequences that come as a result of casino gaming - there are shattered lives everywhere from problem gambling - but the community of Scottsdale has not felt that much," he said. "That said, if you ever put it to a vote whether we'd have casinos in our downtown, outside the native areas, I'm certain that it would go down in political flames."
Correct. But most of these social costs do not accrue to Scottsdale. Scottsdale is very upscale. Most of the people who contribute to the city’s casino windfall can’t afford to live there.
We hear from State
Cheerleader Treasurer Tim Cahill on the Globe’s Op Ed page piece entitled “Massachusetts' fortune is with gaming”:
Since the introduction of "The Game" in 1972, the lottery has returned over $15.3 billion to cities and towns, with more than $3.5 billion coming in just the past four years. The much needed revenue has been committed to education, infrastructure, and public safety, money that would otherwise have been raised through ever-increasing property taxes.
Did the lottery revitalize the funding for public education, as promised? How is it that our infrastructure a still a mess? Has public safety been improved? Did our taxes ever fall? Cahill doesn’t mention these questions, of course. What the lottery revenue has actually done is help preserve our bloated and patronage-laced status quo for 35 years.
Finally from the Globe’s editorial “Ground rules for gambling”:
The administration is promising the most rigorous and transparent regulatory structure in the nation. But the public can't be expected to sign on until still more details are known about the structure itself.
Citizens of Massachusetts are understandably skeptical about the possibility of rigorous and transparent regulatory structures. We only have experienced bloated patronage organizations.
Right now, one can glean as much, maybe more, about Patrick's proposal to require renewable energy at a new casino than about certain aspects of the state's bedrock regulatory structure.
That says a lot about his priorities.
Patrick has faith that destination casinos will offer entertainment and services consistent with the administration's values.
Exactly which values are these? Expanding public sector spending through highly regressive form of revenue? The Globe of course does not elaborate.
Shut up and deal.