How would you vote on a bill that is supported by the leaders of 12 major Massachusetts’ cities (including Boston’s Mayor Menino) and has the potential to create “thousands of jobs” and bring in “hundreds of millions” in revenue to the Bay State? Odds are you would be for the bill. Or, maybe you would be concerned that it sounds a too good to be true. Yesterday, Massachusetts House law makers began debating a bill that would license three casinos and a slot machine facility.
If passed, the bill would require each casino to pay an $85 million license fee and the slot machine facility to pay a $25 million license fee. On top of this, the gambling revenue from the casinos and the slot machine facility would be taxed at 25% and 49%, respectively.
It’s hard to resist the estimated thousands of new jobs these gambling facilities would bring to Massachusetts. Even excluding the engineers, architects, and construction workers that will be employed to build the facilities, and those who will work at them once they are completed, the number of jobs they would create is substantial. As the gambling facilities draw in players, this will drive the creation of new hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment venues close by and on the routes to the facilities.
Some Massachusetts house members predict the casinos could generate upwards of $300 million for local communities. Specifically, a percentage of the money the state gains from gambling taxes would be earmarked for infrastructure improvement projects, such as enhancing transit systems. Improved transit systems would benefit everything from Mom-and-Pop convenience stores to multi-billion dollar tech companies.
So, casinos will likely lead to job creation, increased revenues, and improve Massachusetts’ infrastructure, but there is a potential catch. Critics of the casinos worry about the crime, gambling addiction, alcoholism, and suicide that might come with them. Even the economic benefits are in question. Some analysts say the casinos will likely cause a drop off in lottery ticket sales, meaning communities will realize little to no net increase in gambling revenue.
If this gambling bill passes, it will undoubtedly change the Massachusetts’ job market. As the bill stands now, it’s difficult to say if it would be the success many predict, or if its cons would outweigh its economic benefits. Were I in charge, I definitely wouldn’t be casting a “no” vote; however, I would want to see some more of the details hammered out before I give it my support.