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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Herald: Deleo Staffer Questioned Casinos' Benefits

In a report drafted while working for then state representative Daniel Bosley, current Deleo aide James C. Kennedy described casino proponents' motives as "unscrupulous." In the report, Mr. Kennedy went on to say that the commonwealth will, "with a bit of luck, scarcely break even."

CSM Member Kathleen Conley Norbut was quoted in the article, the full text of which is available here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

CSM Report: Top 10 Problems with Gambling Bill, Legislative Conflicts of Interest

The past 24-hours have seen a major upheaval in the debate over casinos and expanded gambling. After an actual debate broke out on the Senate floor, Senators went behind closed doors to hash out an agreement on a one-year ‘cooling off’ period before legislators could take jobs at casinos. This debate exposes one in a litany of problems in this casino bill, one of 10 highlighted by Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts on the eve of the Senate debate.

What issue will Senators ‘discover’ next? More problems affecting local arts groups? We have several recommendations of badly-needed fixes before this bill proceeds.

“We urge everyone to take a good, hard look at this list of just 10 fatal flaws with this wrong-headed boondoggle disguised as a jobs and revenue plan for the Commonwealth,” said Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts. “We’re thrilled people are starting to awaken to the follies in this bill and commend Senate leadership for encouraging true debate. Now’s the time where that promise meets reality and Senators need to act to fix – or reject – this bill.”

Click here for a link to the CSM Report.

The Boston Globe has also picked up and reported on the watering-down of the cooling off period from five years to one. Click here to read an article explaining the legislature's doublespeak rationalization of the reduction: "that a strong prohibition would only feed the public’s perception that lawmakers cannot be trusted." And click here to read a Globe editorial criticizing the same.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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

On Tuesday, CSM President Scott Harshbarger Responded to a Boston Globe article detailing the patronage and corruption that legalized gambling has brought to Pennsylvania. Mr. Harshbarger's statement:

The grand jury report about the troubling situation in Pennsylvania isn’t just a cautionary tale for Massachusetts, it’s the norm when the casino culture is allowed nearly unfettered entry into a state. Our leaders are poised to hand unprecedented power to a newly-created, taxpayer and casino-funded commission that will be the welcome-wagon for a new wave of Beacon Hill corruption, waste and scandal. At best, our leaders are saying the obvious won’t happen here. At worst, they are on the cusp of opening the door to untold new scandals created by an industry that consistently defies law enforcement  and regulatory controls.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Globe: PA Casinos Bring Profits, Corruption

Pennsylvania's foray into casino gambling should be viewed as a cautionary tale by Massachusetts lawmakers, reported the Boston Globe on Sunday. The Keystone State, which legalized casinos in 2004, has been unable or unwilling to control the corruption, patronage, and back-room dealings that have become commonplace in the halls of government. In part due to poorly drafted legislation, individuals with felony convictions, mob ties, and at least one person accused of throwing his girlfriend from a 23rd story building were all approved for licenses or for employment within the gambling supervisory agency.

A Grand Jury investigation concluded, among other things, that "[n]o applicant was ever deemed unsuitable, despite its clear existence in some cases."

To read the entire article, click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Berkshire Eagle Editorial Denounces Casinos

On Monday, the Berkshire Eagle issued another editorial questioning the benefits that casino gambling will bring the commonwealth. Likening applauding casinos' proposed measures to treat gambling addiction to applauding cigarette companies for placing warning labels on their packaging, the Eagle correctly notes that the best way to prevent problem gambling in Massachusetts is to keep gambling out of Massachusetts.

Click here for a link to the full article.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cape Cod Times: Current Casino Bill Foregoes State Revenue

The proposed legalized gambling bill leaves hundreds of millions of dollars on the table, reported the Cape Cod Times on Tuesday. Between Governor Patrick's 2007 proposal and the bill as currently written, licensing fees have dropped 57%, taxes on casino revenues have dropped 2%, and required casino infrastructure investments have dropped by $500 Million per casino.

CSM President Scott Harshbarger was quoted in the article as saying that these concessions to the casino industry are indicative of things to come, should the bill become law.

Click here for a link to the full article.

Monday, September 19, 2011

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

Today, Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts President Scott Harshbarger issued the following statement in response to news that casino owners in Connecticut are again going back to the state to renegotiate their longstanding deals (this one on security costs), to undercut revenues to the state.

“This is yet another red flag for the public, the media and our elected leaders as we careen toward the cliff on casino gambling. The experience in Connecticut, Rhode Island and around the country show us again and again that promises from casino owners and laws meant to bind them go quickly by the wayside and predictions of jobs, revenues and other benefits falter in this troubled industry. This is a fresh reminder that casino bosses inevitably return to the state to demand better and better deals and that, once legalized, this industry cannot be harnessed or controlled. This is why it is so important to conduct a full cost and benefit analysis before any further votes on legalizing casinos.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Globe Article Details Gambling Amendments & Opponents

Click here to read an article detailing the gambling goings-on over the past several days on Beacon Hill. Among other things, the article details the multitude of amendments filed by gambling opponents and proponents, as well as describes recent anti-gambling gatherings outside of the State House.

Globe: Referendum Provision an "insult" to Boston Residents

Though just one of the multiple "flaw[s]" in the proposed gambling bill, the Boston Globe called a provision that will exclude Boston residents from a casino referendum a "special insult." The provision, which excludes the cities of Boston, Worcester, and Springfield from voting on whether to allow casinos in their surrounding communities, is widely viewed as Speaker Deleo's pet project to ensure a slot barn be introduced in his home district.

Click here for a link to the full article.

CSM President Scott Harshbarger debates Casinos on NECN

Click here to watch a terrific debate between former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and gambling supporter Jay Ash, aired on NECN.

Globe: Gambling Bill Gives Away Revenues to Casinos

On Wednesday, Noah Bierman reported that the 25% tax levied against casinos' daily take lets casinos off the hook relatively easy in comparison to many other states with legalized gambling. Gambling opponents say that this amount will mean hundreds of millions of dollars lost every year to already-wealth casino owners.

In defense of the bill's low tax rate, Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg (D-Amherst) cast the potential casino industry as a golden-egg laying goose that the Massachusetts legislature must keep healthy.

Now that we see how the legislature views the casino industry, and its role in supporting casino owners, the give-aways and sweetheart deals packed into the bill should come as no surprise.

Click here for a link to the full article.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Globe: Gambling Opponents Call For Cost/Benefit Analysis

The Boston Globe reported that at least two Massachusetts lawmakers, in addition to CSM & Kathleen Conley Norbut, have called for a revised and realistic cost/benefit analysis of expanded gambling in Massachusetts.

In particular, Rep. Denise Provost, D-Somerville, filed an amendment that would require such a study to be completed before any casinos could be licensed.

Click here for a link to the full article.

Berkshire Eagle Editorial Slams Casino Bill

The editorial's title nicely sums up the thoughts of Massachusetts casino opponents: "Bad bill, badly crafted." Calling the bill "pre-digested" for lawmakers to "swallow" without meaningful public debate, the Berkshire Eagle refutes the notion that an expanded gambling industry will provide the number of jobs promised by casino proponents.

Click here for a link to the full article. Reports on State House Gambling Protest

Click here for an article posted on, reporting on a protest by opponents of the expanded gambling bill in Massachusetts. The article quotes CSM President Scott Harshbarger, who stated that "[t]his bill is troubled, it was negotiated in secret by the big three leaders and is being shoved in front of legislators for a high-pressure leadership vote with little analysis and less time to consider."

The article comes on the heels of a report issued by Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts detailing the top ten problems associated with the expanded gambling bill.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Salem News Opinion Letter From Sue Tucker; Former MA Senator

Sue Tucker, former Massachusetts state senator, describes in a Salem News opinion piece many of the ways Massachusetts and its citizens could be "fleeced" by expanded gambling in the commonwealth.

Click here for a link to the full article.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Profile of Scott Harshbarger

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, Dante Ramos of the Boston Globe profiled CSM President Scott Harshbarger and his efforts to ensure that the public is fully educated as to the consequences of expanded gambling in Massachusetts.

Click here for a link to the full article.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Boston Globe Editorial: Statement of Scott Harshbarger

Former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts, released the following statement on The Boston Globe’s shift from support to opposition of legalizing casinos. The Globe editorial is linked below. The Globe editorial follows one published by The Boston Herald, which, while still supporting casino legislation raised similar and significant questions about this flawed bill. 

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

“Today’s courageous Boston Globe editorial rightly highlights some of the most troubling issues in the ‘deeply flawed’ casino legislation and should give legislators, Governor Patrick and constitutional officers ample reason to reject this bill. The more people actually read this 155-page giveaway-laden proposal, the more problems will be exposed. Everyone must now clearly recognize this bill does more for deep-pocketed special interests and friends of the powerful than it does to create jobs and raise revenue.  “It is time for the rank-and-file to show they have learned from Beacon Hill’s torrid scandals and will put the Commonwealth’s best interests first by not blindly following the Speaker, Senate President and Governor. It’s time to kill this deeply flawed and wrong-headed bill.”

Click here for a link to the Globe Editorial.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Boston Globe Editorial Calls Casino Bill "deeply flawed"

In a terrific September 8, 2011 editorial, the Boston Globe railed against the insider politics and sweetheart deals that characterize the proposed expanded gambling bill currently working its way through Beacon Hill. 

Among other things, the Globe accuses House Speaker Robert Deleo of wording the bill to expressly benefit his own district in an "unwarranted" manner.  In addition to revenue kick-backs from slot parlors to subsidize race purses at Suffolk Downs, the bill will prevent citizens of Boston from participating in a ballot vote on whether a slot barn should be permitted in Deleo's own district.  Deleo has accomplished this by including a clause directing that in any city with greater than 125,000 residents, only the host "ward" must approve a casino.  Curiously, this clause would only apply to Boston, Worcester, and Springfield.  As such, the residents of Boston would not be included in a vote to decide upon the fate of a slot barn in Deleo's Suffolk district. 

For these and other reasons, the editorial calls upon "rank-and-file lawmakers to reject the plan."

Click here for the full article.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Globe Op-Ed Blasts Casino Deal

In a September 1, 2011 op-ed, Joan Vennochi highlighted the greed and closed-door politics that are driving expanded gambling into Massachusetts.  Among other issues, Ms. Vennochi noted that Governor Deval Patrick seems to support gambling interests only in non-election years, that the bill as currently written is ripe for yet another patronage scandal in the Commonwealth, and that while the rallying cry of proponents is "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!" Nevada - with all its casinos - boasts among the highest in the nation for unemployment.

Click here to read the entire article.