Casinos: “The only reason we are doing this”

(Jobs, or Doug Rubin’s need to justify his lobbying contract to Gtech? – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

This weekend state Senate President Therese Murray claimed “jobs” as the sole motivator behind the current hell-bent-for-leather push to legalize casino gaming in Massachusetts.  “This is a jobs bill; that’s the only reason we’re doing this,” she said. “If we had a cooking economy, you wouldn’t see this happening.”

Predictions about the number of jobs that Massachusetts casinos will bring have, like most predictions tied to the casino push, been all over the map. And the numbers emanating from casino advocates – based on casino industry numbers – have been optimistic to say the least.  So it is helpful to stumble over a concrete reference point, as the Globe did (without even noticing) in its feature article yesterday on Pennsylvania’s casino experience.

Since legalization of gaming in 2004, Pennsylvania has built ten “full-scale casinos,” the Globe informs us.  That is 3.33 times as many casinos as are proposed for Massachusetts, by the way.  Humming and chirping briskly, 24-7, Pennsylvania’s casinos currently employ… approximately 15,000 people. 

Sound familiar?  15,000.  Exactly the number of jobs that Massachusetts casino advocates claim will be created by our three casinos.

So somehow we are to believe that our casinos are going to produce the same number of gaming jobs as Pennsylvania’s, with fewer than a third as many casinos.  Cruel and inflexible math.  How you mock us.

A little quick napkin doodle tells me that 5,000 permanent jobs is more likely – and even that ignores that PA jumped into the casino market during an economic boom, whereas we’re taking a desperation dive in the midst of a grueling recession.  5,000 jobs – which will add less than 1/3 of 1 percent  to the total jobs in Massachusetts.  And even that overstates.  These out of state casino developers slobbering over our market aren’t going to open up Card Sharp Academies at each facility.  A healthy percentage of those jobs are going to be filled by seasoned gaming pros imported from out of state.  But no matter – the casino caucus and the press will continue to parrot that 15,000 figure as though there were nothing to check it against.  And when it fails to materialize?  Well, we can always build more casinos.

The Globe article is also worth a read for the tales it tells of the corruption, graft, political patronage and other unsavory side effects that have attended casino gaming in Pennsylvania… READ THE REST at CriticalMASS

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