Despite previously strong opposition to gambling legislation in the Massachusetts House, it is looking like proponents of allowing resort casinos in the state are gaining ground quickly. Like every state in the US, the recession is hitting the Massachusetts coffers hard. The state has predicted that 2010 could see shortfalls ranging anywhere from $600 million to $1 billion dollars. These shortfalls are putting increased pressure on ways to find more revenue, which brings building casinos to the top of the list.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has been in favor of passing gambling legislation since he took office. Unfortunately, a significant majority squashed his first attempt in the House, with 108 of its 154 voters saying no. A new vote that proponents hoped would take place at the end of 2009 will now be postponed until 2010.
Therese Murray, Senate President, said recently that allowing casinos in Massachusetts is “inevitable.” It is felt that the state is leaking millions of dollars over state borders as its residents travel to Connecticut and Rhode Island’s gaming establishments, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. By building casinos at home, Massachusetts can keep money in the state, which will create jobs and tax revenue, and keep funds circulating in the local economy.
Even though Massachusetts casinos are looking more likely, there is still a hard slog ahead before any ground is broken. There are many strong voices in the state that feel that allowing gambling is wrong. They feel that casinos will take advantage of vulnerable people and increase gambling addiction. Opponents are also arguing that casinos might not be the golden goose that the state is hoping for, citing the financial trouble being experienced by many gaming venues around the country.
However, who really has a right to say that an adult should not be allowed to spend their money how they wish? The difference in the amount of people who sensibly gamble and don’t have problems, compared to those who do, is large. The majority of gamblers do it sparingly for entertainment. Arguing that gambling should be illegal because of irresponsible gamblers is like arguing that alcohol should be banned because of alcoholics and drunk drivers. If the correct support systems are in place to help those who find themselves in trouble, then gambling is a great avenue of adult entertainment that can also give the state’s financial balance a much-needed boost.