AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
You Can Bet On This Election...
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Monday, July 7, 2014
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
always going to be a statewide election this fall, including a race for
Governor.But now it will be different
from any other ever held in the Bay State.Hold on to your hats folks – the political winds will soon be escalating
to hurricane force level.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled last week that repealing the current
“casino law” could be placed on the ballot this year, the political rules and
landscape were immediately and severely altered.You can throw out all the usual election
philosophies, rules and assumptions if this question is on the same ballot as
our elected state officials.It’s a sure
bet this election will be all about legalized gambling.
has always been both hypocritical and schizophrenic when it comes to betting.It is as though our puritanical roots and our
liberal leanings can only find common ground in how we project our public
position on gambling.We say one thing,
while doing another.
Massachusetts residents like to gamble.We have long been home to one of the most successful state lotteries in
the country.We flock to casinos in
Connecticut and other nearby states in search of winnings.Casino operators in Las Vegas will tell you
Massachusetts residents are prime customers.And underground and illegal sports betting has been supporting the
families of Boston bookies for many generations.
But we don’t
like to see it where we live.We prefer
pretending we are above it all.Casinos
are for visiting, not having within our pristine borders.Oh no – we can’t have that, even if it does
bring in billions in revenue and ancillary business.
preys on the poor, we are told.It is socially
unfair.And the gaming companies are
unfeeling corporate entities that bring corruption and backroom deals to our
already political state.
Corruption?Here in Massachusetts?Surely you jest.You mean to say there may be corporate
entities seeking to spend money and peddle influence in order to advance their
own success?Oh my, how out of the
ordinary that would be compared to other types of industry located here.
apparently we will save those “poor people” by making sure legalized gambling
is located just on the other side of the state line.That way we can fulfill our gambling urges
while still maintaining the façade that we are above the fray.Apparently, appearance is everything.
casino opponents would rather see us drive residents to illegal betting, where
there are no regulations to ensure fairness and the collection efforts tend to
be a bit more extreme.The poor are
still victimized in this scenario, but it is harder to see them from the
comfort of our high moral perches.
gambling will be the main issue, with money being tossed around on both sides –
especially the pro-casino groups.And as
we know, money is the lifeblood of politics in America.Massachusetts is no exception.
be a major issue in helping voters to choose candidates for statewide
office.While most running for office
would like to ignore it and let the people decide the issue, they cannot and
they know it.
only look back a few years to Foxboro for an example of how this next election
may be affected.In 2012 gambling
technically was not on the ballot, but everyone knew the local election was a
referendum on allowing a casino locally.The turnout was tremendous, way above average.Candidates handily lost their races with vote
totals that would have easily won any other year.
At least 20
states have legalized casino gambling.Others have “Indian” casinos run by Native American tribes.As with other industries, some are more
successful than others.
gambling itself will not be on the ballot this fall.No matter how the electorate votes,
Massachusetts residents will continue to gamble.The question now is, will they do it here in
a regulated or non-regulated setting and will the state collect taxes and
benefit from new construction and new jobs?
approach didn’t work during Prohibition, and it won’t work now.
is certain - between today and November, pollsters are going to make a boatload
of money.You can bet on that.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and
longtime local official.He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at