Monday, April 12, 2010

Indian Racinos in Raynham? Don't bet on it to win, place or show (up) soon

NPR's Adam Ragusea warns Massachusetts Racino plans, like one being considered by the Wampanoag and Genting Asian gambling syndicate, could be bad for the economy.

According to Bill Thompson, a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the gaming industry isn't delivering like it promises.  Apparently, outside of Vegas, a quarter of the casinos in Atlantic City are in bankruptcy.  Thompson notes:

“Foxwoods isn’t doing very well, and Foxwoods is the premier casino in the world, the largest in the world,” he said. “Boy, if they’re not doing well, something’s wrong.”  Apparently revenue at the Connecticut giant is down about 20 percent causing them to give 700 employees the axe this past Fall.

But others say Racino's at Raynham run by the tax-exempt Wampanoag with multi-billion dollar funding from Genting would mean "thousands of slot machines" in 60 to 90 days!  Whoa there - somebody is forgetting that any "Indian Gaming" deal will first require federal legislation allowing the Wampanoag people (not a tribe recognized as eligible under the Indian Gaming Act to run gaming operations). 

In fact, it's likely any Indian Gaming operation in Massachusetts will be met with legislative and legal delays which will likely take decades to complete.  Even if the overcome this hurdle, Thompson points out the other downside:

“The slot machine costs $15,000 dollars, you’re losing that just when you buy the machine, and then if the gamblers are just local money, you never make it up."  
The report notes that similar parlors in Maine and Rhode Island owe their relative success  to the fact that they serve local markets.  So, Thompson said, if only Bay Staters go to the ‘racinos,’ our overall economy loses money.  He says, if the Racino is operated by a commercial, taxable organization (not the tax-exempt Indian gaming operation proposed by the Wampanoag) the state may see more tax revenue.   But still be bad for the local economy.
Any real revitalization of Raynham is likely not going to include the Wampanoags or their deep pocketed Asian backers.