The Boston Globe, Quincy Patriot Ledger and South Coast Today have all editorialized that the gaming legislation proposed by Governor Deval Patrick and Senator Therese Murray is a flawed special interest give-away that’s a bad deal for the Commonwealth. Yet this lobbyist written legislative scheme was voted out of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies headed by Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) and Representative Joseph Wagner (D-Chicopee). It should surprise no one that Senator Spilka and Representative Wagner join Governor Patrick and Senator Murray on the list of top recipients of campaign contributions from lobbyists representing the Indian gaming and slot machine industries. What is surprising is that so few Senators or Representatives are speaking out against this special interest give-away at the taxpayers’ expense.
What do the local newspapers have to say?
Boston Globe: Casino bill deeply flawed; rank & file should kill it
“Any casino legislation should also provide a level playing field for would-be operators. Instead, under the current proposal, Native American tribes would have a one-year head start for the license designated for Southeastern Massachusetts. It effectively amounts to a no-bid contract for the Mashpee Wampanoag… carving out a special process for a group with strong lobbying muscle remains problematic. Patrick opposed no-bid contracts in negotiations last year - and shouldn’t have shifted now.”
South Coast Today: Cards stacked against Southeastern Massachusetts
“While western and northern Massachusetts get to start clean in seeking the best option for casinos there, Southeastern Massachusetts will operate with a big handicap: a pledge to allow Indian tribes a year to work out their own deals with partners of their own choosing. And that means the interests of the region as a whole and of everyone who lives here come after the financial interests of the tribes. That's not comforting, especially considering how badly Mashpee Wampanoag tribal leaders treated the town of Middleboro, which they wooed as a mate previously in a plan to land a resort casino, then spurned for another pretty face when Fall River came knocking with a dowry of ready-to-develop acreage that UMass Dartmouth had been promised for the new biotech park the region had been pushing for years. The tribe is thrilled with the gambling bill and wants to do business with a Malaysian company, Genting. The tribe would first have to find land and work out a gaming compact with the governor… In short, if this legislation is approved, Southeastern Massachusetts is left to wait at least a year while the two tribes sort out their legal challenges and the Mashpee tribe tries to convince people that it should be trusted with developing the region's one and only casino… If casino gambling is to be a benefit to Massachusetts, it must do more than send a share of gaming receipts to the state treasury. It must foster growth beyond its own property boundaries or it will do more harm than good. It is hard not to wonder whether or not Patrick, DeLeo and Murray took that into consideration when they locked the doors and made Southeastern Massachusetts play a hand from a deck stacked against it.”
Patriot Ledger: Yes to casino bill, with some changes
“The bill creates a preference for giving an Indian tribe in Southeastern Massachusetts the casino license for the region… The Mashpee Wampanoags have been trying for years to open a casino in Middleboro or elsewhere in Southeastern Massachusetts. Requiring them to acquire land, get clearance from federal authorities and work out a compact with the state by July 31 of next year borders on the impossible. The time limit will almost certainly be challenged in the courts and could delay for years the opening of any casino in Southeastern Massachusetts and perhaps elsewhere in the state. This needs to be changed.”
Change is needed. It’s time for our elected officials to say where they stand:
Are you for turning over Southeastern Massachusetts’ economic opportunity to a Malaysian gambling syndicate partnered with a corruption-tainted Indian tribe who will pay no taxes or fees, delay job creation and remove local controls over law enforcement and zoning?
Are you for transparent, regulated, tax-paying developers who can be trusted to enter into legally binding agreements with local communities paying off for the state treasury and jobs as soon as possible?