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!
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on September 19, 2014
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
3 – the ballot initiative seeking to repeal the law allowing construction of
three casinos and one slot parlor in various parts of Massachusetts – will be
voted upon in little more than a month.
decision (just one of several critical choices) is extremely important for
everyone in the Bay State.It will also
be a classic lesson in how to conduct a political campaign in these modern
times.The side that is successful in
framing the question and dictating the parameters of the debate will end up
might think this is a relatively simple matter.Those wishing to see casinos built will tout the good things they can
provide, including badly needed revenue for the state and many temporary and permanent
jobs.Those opposed will cite the socio-economic
negatives they anticipate, and frame casinos as an attempt to prey on the most
vulnerable and poor among us.
why the group seeking to keep casinos legal is called the “Coalition to Protect
Mass. Jobs” rather than the “Committee for Casino Gambling”.Their goal is to focus on the employment
boost and economic spark casinos can create.They would like you to think of this as a giant job fair rather than an
prominent anti-casino group is called “Repeal the Casino Deal” because they want
to promote the perception the legislature did something wrong.They want to convince you special interests
won out over our general social, moral and economic well-being.They’d like you to believe you got cheated,
and the only way to right that wrong is to overturn the decision of your state
Roman Catholic Bishops came out in favor of repeal, which was no great
surprise.But they have not gotten
heavily involved in the political process as of yet, largely because it makes
the positions of the Church look more than a little hypocritical.
“We are concerned that
the Commonwealth will be forced to rely on an unstable form of revenue,
depending largely on those addicted to gambling. They are the citizens who are
already among the ranks of the poorest in the community – the ones who can
least afford to gamble,” the statement by the bishops said.
interesting to contemplate those words as you ride by one of the many bingo
games run by Catholic parishes across the state.You know, the ones apparently attended only
by millionaires who can afford to lose.Perhaps the bishops should repeal those licenses first, as a sign of
But in the end,
those seeking repeal want you to think this is about teaching the government a
lesson.They are trying to tap into that
ever-present and seemingly endless supply of distrust and anger voters have
towards their governmental institutions and officials.
this question as a way to show “the people” are still in charge.Who do these lawmakers think they are,
passing actual laws after decades of study and analysis?So what if they gave local municipalities the
final say?Do you really want them telling
you what to do?This is your chance to
flex your muscles and send a clear message,
Well, maybe not
clear, but a message nonetheless.
prefer this election and this question be a referendum on the legislature
itself.They want to get you up on your
high moral horse in a stance against the evils of gambling, even though all it
may accomplish is pushing the gamblers out of our sight and forcing them to contribute to the revenues of other neighboring
Even the set-up
of the question lends itself to confusion.If you are in favor casinos, you must vote No.If you are opposed to casinos, you need to
let either side play to their emotions and fears rather than the facts.This is not about jobs, or morals, or
teaching legislators a lesson.The real
question is whether or not repealing this legally-passed law is a smart thing
to do given our circumstances today.
ultimately decide, it is important to note that a Yes vote will not end
gambling, and a No vote will not make us any less moral.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and
longtime local official.He can be
emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at