Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts strives to educate the public and citizens of Massachusetts on subjects useful and beneficial to the community, in order to create a more diverse, educated, economically competitive, and environmentally sustainable Commonwealth. These aims are furthered through presenting topics in a full and fair manner to a wide audience in order that the public may form independent opinions and conclusions, by making available the results of nonpartisan analysis, study, or research on legislative issues, by performing advocacy and, to a significantly lesser degree, by engaging in grassroots lobbying.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Statement from CSM President Scott Harshbarger

Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts, issued the following statement on the appointment of Stephen Crosby as the chairman of the new Gambling Commission.

Statement of Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts

“While I and many other concerned Massachusetts residents remain skeptical of the promises made by casino supporters, Governor Patrick today made an inspired selection in Steve Crosby as the chairman of the powerful Gambling Commission. Steve is a bipartisan realist with strong credentials, demonstrated independence and impressive experience in both the public and private sectors. He is smart, tough and honest and I hope his selection sets the standard for strong appointments from the Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer.

“The new Chairman will be judged in the near- and long-term on his actions and I hope critics and proponents alike will watch, comment and participate in this critically important process. Among the important early steps for the commission is to showcase its independence in decision-making, create a strict code of ethics and conduct for all commission matters and clearly establish a process for decisions which imposes a new level of transparency and civic engagement.

“The hard work on casinos and slots begins now, with Steve Crosby at the helm. I believe the Governor, Attorney-General and Treasurer will get it right and appoint more truly independent-minded commissioners willing to stand up for the Commonwealth and its best interests.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kraft, Wynn Ramp Up Foxboro Casino Plans

It's now official - Suffolk Downs will have competition for the coveted Eastern Massachusetts casino license, and Joe O'Donnell should be concerned. And as the respective sides gather politicians to their respective camps, it remains unclear who will win the fight.

As the Boston Globe reports, the competition is less focused on which group - Foxboro or Suffolk Downs - is most qualified to run a casino, than it is on which casino can attract the heaviest political hitters to their cause. In Steve Wynn's corner - business magnate Robert Kraft and Governor Deval Patrick. And with Joe O'Donnell - House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

Foxboro residents have already begun to a refrain of "enough!" Between the Patriots, Major League Soccer, and a never-ending string of concerts, the small community's infrastructure has already been pushed to the limit. Add a 24 hour - excuse me, 23 hour and 59 minute - per day casino, and Foxboro will be pushed beyond its breaking point. Of course, Wynn and Kraft have promised to make a Foxboro casino "bucolic," but really, can you take the word of a man known for revamping the anything-but-bucolic Las Vegas strip?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Globe: Kraft/Wynn Casino Alliance Signals Possible Trouble Ahead

In a Boston Globe article, Adrian Walker ponders whether the Massachusetts gambling industry - led by business and casino titans Robert Kraft and Steve Wynn - could "become a beast that will strain the state’s ability to regulate it." Mr. Walker rightly notes that it is an industry "defined by desperation," and questions the negative effect that casinos will have on quality of life in the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the entire article.

CSM President Scott Harshbarger Boston Globe Opinion

Click here to read Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts' President Scott Harshbarger's Opinion article published in the Boston Globe on Saturday, December 3, 2011. The article discusses what will be needed in the members of the yet-to-be-named gaming commission.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Globe Editorial: Patrick Should Review Bialecki's Actions

Gregory Bialecki, the secretary of housing and economic development, appears "untroubled" by his clear violation of state ethics laws, says the Boston Globe. Bialecki, who testified to the benefits of expanded gambling three days after finding out that he owned $17,000 of casino stock, decided to sell his shares only after the Globe inquired into the matter. While he now admits that he was "dumb" for failing to ask advice on the matter from Governor Patrick, his excuse for his pro-casino testimony - that his remarks were prepared for him without his knowledge - is beyond absurd.

Click here to read the entire article.

Click here to read another Globe article reporting on the ever-increasing competition for the licenses that would become available, should Massachusetts legalize expanded gambling.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Casinos and Personal Information: Tracking Your Every Move

No longer satisfied with normal marketing techniques and focus groups, casino owners are now able to track gamblers' every financial move, even outside of the casino. Software available to them permits casino owners to monitor any gambler who used a credit card, check card, or ATM machine on the premises. Once in the system, every transaction made by a gambler is recorded and organized to allow casinos to know the spending habits of a particular gambler - even transactions made at other casinos. All this tracking is meant to provide information to attract the biggest gamblers to their establishment in lieu of that of a competitor.

Though cleverly worded as "MVP" patrons or "high-potential" gamers, it is clear that this sort of tracking is meant to seek out problem gamblers who will be prone to losing the most possible money.

Click here to watch how this tracking works.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Statement of Scott Harshbarger, President of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts

CSM President Scott Harshbarger released the following statement this morning in reaction to today's Boston Globe article, reporting that Gregory Bialecki, secretary of housing and economic development, held more than $17,000 in Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Both companies have expressed interest in building a casino in Massachusetts, should they become legal. Mr. Bialecki reportedly sold his stock in the two groups after Globe inquiries into this potential conflict of interest.

“The cozy relationship between our elected and appointed officials, casino bosses and their hired guns is deeply troubling and today’s Boston Globe expose just peels back another layer of this rotten onion. The more we learn about the insider dealing that shrouds this entire issue, the more red flags it should wave for all of us, including legislators and the Governor.

“Secretary Bialecki, who has been a leading proponent of the alleged economic benefits of casinos, was right to dump his financial investment in casino stocks but he’d be smarter to advise the Governor to dump his support for this bill until he completes the truly independent cost and benefit analysis the Governor promised. From jobs and revenues to regulatory structure and law enforcement – this bill absolutely will not deliver on its promises.”