The state legislature will here testimony today on several proposals to build casinos in Massachusetts. The likely sites for the proposed casinos will be Palmer, Milford, and Auburn.
I believe that these proposals should all be voted down. Those wishing to build casinos claim that casinos will bring jobs, tourism, and economic growth. They also emphasize their potential to cover the current Massachusetts budget shortfall through the heavy taxes that are usually levied on casino's huge profits. However, these benefits are both exaggerated and overshadowed by the massive costs to all Massachusetts residents.
Practically, this is the worst time to build casinos. Atlantic City has recently reported a 19.8% loss in profits, while the Las Vegas strip has reported 57.3% drop in profits. Even Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have experienced declining profits of late.
New casinos in Massachusetts would likely also experience these reduced profits. Less profits means less revenues for the state, which essentially debunks the primary argument for the casinos in the first place.
Meanwhile, it is important to note that the revenue that the state would earn from casinos doesn't appear magically; it has to come from somewhere. In fact, state casino revenue constitutes a tax that is more regressive than the sales tax, because 60% of casino revenues come from people making less than $25,000 per year.
Of course supporters will continue to point to the economic development, jobs, and tourist revenue that the casinos will bring to the local areas. However, these benefits are at best half-truths and at worst outright lies.
It turns out in fact that while casinos sometimes result in some initial economic growth, over time their tendency to out compete local businesses and thus bankrupt them, results in no long term net gain in economic growth, while destroying the defining characteristics of the area.
With local businesses closing, job growth would also at best remain stagnant, while job choice would decline. With the casino offering the only jobs in town, it become a monopsony in the labor market, driving down wages, benefits, and quality of work for those forced to work there.
The attraction of tourist revenue is perhaps the most ridiculous claim made by casino advocates. Patrons of resort casinos rarely spend any money outside of the casino as food, shelter, alcohol, and entertainment are all provided by the establishment. In addition, they often leave the casino with nothing to spend elsewhere.
While the benefits are casinos are fleeting and overblown. The costs are overwhelming. Crime skyrockets in the area surrounding a casino, often extending to include the entire county in which it is present. Burglary, assault, auto theft, robbery, larceny, and rape all experience dramatic leaps in occurrence whenever a casino opens in an area.
For all these reasons, I implore my readers to contact their state representative and state senator and call on them to oppose these measures. If a casino is built in Auburn, all nearby towns will be affected.
To those who say that the casino revenue, despite being collected unjustly and at the expense of everything we hold dear, is necessary to keep Massachusetts fiscally sound, say that they should take this recession and budget shortfall as an opportunity to weed out unnecessary spending and outright waste. After all we are all doing the same with our personal finances.