Predicting Casinos' Impact On The Bay State

By WGBH News


Dec. 7, 2011

BOSTON — Now that the multi-year debate over casino gambling is finally over — and casinos are a sure thing in the Bay State — we turn to the massive significance it could have in the state. Guests on “The Callie Crossley Show” said the new industry will have a major impact both on the state’s bottom line and politicians’ careers.
Currently, nearly $1 billion in gambling revenue leaves Massachusetts every year as residents flock to casinos just across the border, said Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. That includes money spent by the 20 percent of Bay State residents who don't gamble at all, and seek out other services and entertainment at casinos.
But once the casinos open here, much of that money will come back to the state, Barrow said. His center’s studies show that gamblers would rather do their gaming closer to home.
“About two-thirds of gamblers tell us they will switch their allegiance [to a Mass. casino] within the first year,” he said. That’s almost $700 million.
Casinos may have a lasting impact on something less material as well: Deval Patrick’s legacy as Governor.
Just as Mitt Romney is remembered for health care reform, Deval Patrick will be remembered for casino gambling, said Boston Magazine executive editor Patrick Doyle — even if he might prefer that Bay Staters focus on his work in education.
“Fixing and changing education is incredibly difficult and incremental. But when you drive down the highway and you see a big glittering sign for a casino, that is what is going to stick into their mind,” Doyle said.

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