Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Massachusetts State Betting on a House of Cards – Casino’s Perfect Schematic to Bail out Cities running on Fumes. Springfield Votes July 16. Opinion



The State of Massachusetts passed a bill in 2011 allowing 3 casino’s and one slot pallor to open in the state, according to 500nations.com, the first casino licenses will be granted in February 2014, with expected completion of the casino’s by “late 2014 – early 2015”. Each of the casino applicants paid a fee of $400,000 to the State to vie for one of the licenses, the municipality then narrowed down the choices between the competing firms, and city or town residents go to the polls this month to vote yes or no on becoming a “host” community.

For the City of Springfield, the message is astoundingly clear, the casino MGM, offers the third largest city in the Commonwealth, a way out – of empty streets, closing businesses, rampant crime and debt. Unlike Detroit, where a casino failed to right the ship, Springfield has a much better management team, which continues to stop the “bleeding”.

What MGM, the corporation chosen by Springfield Mayor, Dominic Sarno, offers the City a heft package of tax revenue, coupled with a restructuring of the area of the city that was struck by a tornado on June 1, 2011, that destroyed the south end of Springfield(MassLive) – MGM is planning on building in that area, with a job creation packaged included.

MGM offers its plans, including community development at its website: mgmspringfield.com. However, not everyone in the community is thrilled to have a casino in the neighborhood – and an attempt by Citizens Against Casino Gaming to roll back the vote set for the city failed. The citizens of Springfield will have their say on the 16th. MGM is backed by south end community business owners, the police unions, and the largest daily papers in Western Mass, gave its editorial blessing this morning. (Mass Live)

The pro’s to having casino’s licensed in the state are obvious – the tax revenue alone in needed by both the Commonwealth and the Host Cities (Springfield), MGM (and assuming other applicants), would take blighted areas and revitalize the landscape, which, for Springfield especially, is welcome. Jobs, which are not exactly plentiful in Massachusetts, would be created to the tune of 3000 construction jobs, and several thousand permanent jobs.

The general objections to hosting any casino are twofold, crime and addiction to gaming. With the aforementioned, Springfield is now, despite the best efforts of the Springfield PD, along with the Massachusetts State Police, and various Federal Agencies, prone to some violence, due to drugs, gangs, and the like. It could get worse, but it is doubtful it will get better, with or without the casino. The casino gives a much needed boost of revenue to the City to allow for hiring additional police and fire, (as well as other staff), while hiring its own security team. As to gaming being an issue, the fact that Massachusetts State Lottery offers games from scratch to keno on a daily basis (including Sunday’s) does not appear to get much backlash, the fact that Connecticut hosts two casinos’ less than a 2 hours drive, with buses leaving senior centers, and other locations several times a day, apparently is also not a problem. There are casino boat trips out of eastern Mass, there are dog tracks, there are a number of options on the table, should one be addicted to gaming – therefore, a resort casino, would fit in nicely.

In this case, betting on a house of cards is a fairly good bet, with the payoff being increased security, education, revival of a blighted area, and a resort destination that would attract visitors from New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine. While at the casino, those visitors will be able to avail themselves of local entertainment, shopping, and restaurants. The argument that casino’s as self-contained, and do not contribute to the local economy works when a casino is located in a rural area, hwoever, in the middle of a City, the options are greater, and the ease of access is increased.

Once in a blue moon, the Massachusetts State House, get’s one right.

Links:

City of Springfield FY 2013 Adopted Budget

State of Massachusetts Fiscal Year Budget 2013

New taxes on tap, $500 Million to cover some of the debt for the Commonwealth

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