Caught breaking his own rules (again) and repeated statements about not meeting with and not taking money from casino and Indian gaming lobbyists, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s response to the Boston Globe’s Mike Levenson was a flip, “With all due respect I don’t count every check.” Ouch, take that Globe, taxpayers and everyone else for not understanding why the governor keeps making claims about gambling politics in Massachusetts that simply aren’t true. He simply cannot count, doesn’t know what his political committee is doing on his behalf and cannot remember when he meets with people he claims he doesn’t know. How the heck did this Harvard law grad get so far?
According to the Globe’s investigation the honest Governor recently attended a fundraiser hosted by a gaming industry lobbyist whose company will benefit from special interest carve outs being pushed by the Governor allowing tribal preferences in Massachusetts gambling enabling legislation. His own political committee has contracted with another gaming industry lobbying firm headed by former Patrick senior advisor Doug Rubin. Oh, Rubin’s company also benefits from this tribal preference carve out.
You see, Indian casinos don’t pay taxes or licensing fees for their slot machines. As we know from Wampanoag council chair Cedric Cromwell’s statement “We will destroy the competition because we won’t pay taxes of licensing fees!” You see, the gaming slot machine companies love these Indian casinos over non-Indian gaming operations that have to pay taxes and licensing fees for every slot machine installed.
That means Indian casinos buy more and are willing to pay more for such machines (which run $10,000 to $30,000-plus a piece) – and an Indian casino means thousands of slots (Foxwoods alone has more than 7,200!). The Wampanoag’s latest plan (you see there have been at least three or four, they keep changing what they promise) is for a reduced investment in Raynham Park to create “slots in a box” casino – ka-ching! These nickel slots mean potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for the companies represented by the lobbyists Governor Patrick insisted he hadn’t met with and claimed he hadn’t cashed any of their checks.
But isn’t everybody’s a winner with Massachusetts casinos? That’s what we’re told. It means big bucks for Therese Murray and Governor Patrick’s political coffers. There certainly have been big bucks for the Governor’s gaming lobbyist friends. There will be big bucks to the Wampanoag’s Malaysian backers. And, of course we’ll see big bucks and a nice cushy high paying job for Wampanoag council chair Cedric Cromwell. So who could complain?
Perhaps the people of Massachusetts who will lose revenues as the untaxed profits flow through the Wampanoags overseas to Genting’s bank accounts in Asia. Perhaps the local communities who will lose local autonomy, zoning, property taxes and law enforcement jurisdiction over the “Indian reservation casinos” created. Or the local businesses, convenience stores, liquor stores and restaurants who go under because they cannot compete with the un-taxed sales of goods from the competing Indian reservation operations.
Is this why Senate President Therese Murray, Governor Patrick and the governor’s lead casino “expert” Greg Bialecki keeps meeting behind closed doors to craft this legislation which will include special carve outs giving tribal preference for groups like the Wampanoag and their Asian gaming syndicate backers at Genting? Well, that depends on if you believe the politicians like Governor Patrick who claims he doesn’t meet with (he does) or take money from the tribal preference gaming lobbyists (he did).