The reasonable fear is that even without state-approved expansion of permissible games, Wampanoag gambling will drain life from the state lottery without any of the compensatory tourism advantages that high-class casinos bring. The tribe, of course, recognizes its leverage and hopes to strike a deal similar to that in Connecticut, where the state receives 25 percent of all slot-machine revenue. Last year, it received $427 million from the two casinos. A sizable chunk of that money came from Massachusetts residents who spent an estimated $1.1 billion gambling in our neighboring state.
Cahill has suggested that if luxury casino gambling were legalized in Massachusetts, the state could collect as much as a billion dollars annually in taxes and gaming fees. Is that reasonable? We do not know. But 11 other states, including Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, and Indiana, all have non-tribal gambling. Making a comparison should not be difficult.
When all is said and done, the equation is not complicated: how much money would Massachusetts gain if a private developer went into the casino business with all the fees and sales, meals, lodging, and gambling taxes collected? And how much money would we collect if we were to negotiate with the Wampanoags for an expanded form of gaming in exchange for a cut of tribal action? The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which regulates tribal matters, has capped Connecticut’s take at 25 percent. Some private casinos pay their state governments almost 50 percent.
It is clear that Massachusetts is going to have an expanded gambling sector in the future, whether it likes it or not. The question is what’s better for the state: gaming by the Wampanoags alone or gaming by the tribe as well as by a private corporation? The answer will lie in the numbers. We trust that Cahill — and Patrick — recognize that.
Build cape wind now
As Adam Reilly’s story demonstrates, a powerful collection of privileged private interests — inexplicably spearheaded by Senator Ted Kennedy — is trying to scuttle plans to build a farm of windmills in Nantucket Sound, offshore from the Kennedy-family compound. Kennedy and his wealthy neighbors’ interests are clearly blinding them to the need to build this facility as part of a larger national and international effort to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel. The need is now. The cause is great. It is time for Massachusetts to embrace the importance of going green and build Cape Wind.
: The Editorial Page
, Deval Patrick, U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, More