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Editorial: Reject casinos in Massachusetts

"The town of Middleborough, lured by the promise of fool's gold, voted Saturday at a town meeting to sign an agreement with the Wampanoag Indians that will bring the state's first casino to the small southeastern Massachusetts community. Where there is one casino, there assuredly will be a second, along with slot machines at the state's racetracks. That is, of course, unless Governor Patrick and the Legislature nip the state's growing gambling fever in the bud.

The tribal casinos are the product of a terrible federal law of 1988 enabling tribes to conduct the same kind of gambling as is allowed in a state. This opened the door, and the law's stipulation that states could negotiate with tribes about permitting forms of gambling that had been prohibited led to the opening of slot machines in the Connecticut casinos, and the millions began rolling in daily. With the money comes political corruption, as both the Clinton and Bush administrations have been involved in shenanigans involving the recognition of border-line tribes backed by deep-pocketed casino developers and their lobbyists. (The Jack Abramoff scandal was largely about cynical efforts to play one tribe off against another.)

Middleborough and the Wampanoags must still negotiate a contract with the governor, and the law is so vague there are differences of opinion as to whether the state must negotiate or can simply reject the casino. It is generally agreed that the Legislature must approve whatever contract is agreed upon. Disappointingly, Governor Patrick appears receptive to casinos, but the House is thought to be less so, and members can call upon the expertise of North Adams Democrat Dan Bosley, a casino opponent whose views are supported by his considerable research into the issue.

The state's falling lottery revenues highlight the danger of government dependence on the vice industry, an industry that preys on the poor. A casino — and eventually casinos — would dramatically increase this dependence. Beacon Hill must do what it can so Middleborough's folly will not be the state's."

Get the Story:
Editorial: No to state casinos (The Berkshire Eagle 7/30)

Three More Opinions/Columns:
Editorial: Beacon Hill pols holding the cards (The Boston Herald 7/31)
Editorial: Middleborough antes up (The Boston Globe 7/31)
Rick Green: Gambling: Bay State Likes Odds (The Hartford Courant 7/31)