Testimony of Senator Susan Tucker at the Oct 2009 Hearings on Expanded Gambling in Massachusetts.
All of Senator Tucker’s arguments hold as true for Vancouver as they do for cities in Massachussetts. Tucker has worked on this issue for years. She was recently featured on CBS’ news program on gambling expansion in the US, which is also worth watching.
“[The casino industry] doesn’t work because it costs too much. The proponents throw out the $200 million number.
We need cost benefit numbers! We need to know how much the new bureaucracy is going to cost to enforce the new laws that our own Attorney General said we must have before we even consider casinos. Criminal activity laws, wire-tapping, money-laundering, new laws. Who’s going to be hired to audit and oversee the gambling? It’s a very expensive proposition. And the words and the money that gets thrown around here about what we’re losing to Connecticut, let me tell you, if every dollar that went down a Connecticut slot machine went down a Massachussetts slot machine, and we taxed them at the same percent, about 25%, Massachussetts would get a grand total of about $93 million. But the ten percent hit to the lottery [that casinos will bring] is $80 million dollars. It will cost us at least $30 million to set up a new bureaucracy – you’ve already spent the money!
The proponents do not have the numbers.
And we haven’t even addressed the addiction problem.
… [T]he problem is that a lot of people promoting this don’t understand what the new slot machines are, how they are designed, and what the industry does. Basically the machines are designed to see every customer as a potential addict. These machines are built with virtual real mapping to make people think they almost won, and to put people in a zone, similar to a drug zone, and this has been testified to by psychiatrists, by neurobiologists, by people who understand the nature of addiction. I object to the state partnering with an industry that makes its profit on addiction. I don’t think that is the job of the commonwealth of Massachussetts. We have choices about where we grow jobs in Massachussetts.
You think you have control over this industry. You don’t. Whatever you put in that bill to sell it to your colleagues, the deal will change within two or three years. Now how do I know this? Because it happens everywhere. The casinos come in; “Oh we won’t be predatory, we’ll put debt limits on so people can’t gamble more than $500 an hour.” Within two years those debt limits are gone. Why? “Oh, we can’t compete!” They negotiate for a lower tax rate than they come in promising, they change all the practices that you might try to put in to make them less predatory, they fight them, you can’t control it, you can’t control where they’re located. So I suggest to you that this is very, very dangerous, and bad timing in this economy to even consider this proposal.”