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.
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.
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 besmarter 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.”
Click here to watch CSM President Scott Harshbarger on Fox 25 discussing the ongoing casino debate in Massachusetts. Referring to casino gambling as "fool's gold," Mr. Harshbarger points out that casinos have to be allowed to give out free drinks and junkets to be a functional business model, all the while causing increased gambling addiction & devastation to surrounding communities. Mr. Harshbarger also points out that the "race to the bottom" has already begun, noting the happy hour amendment that would allow discounted alcohol in state bars and restaurants.
The following is a statement from Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts, on the Senate’s passage this afternoon of the casino bill.
“We are, of course, disappointed with the Senate’s vote to follow the House in approving a bill which, if it becomes law, will irreparably and undeniably hurt the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. After weeks of so-called “debate,” the process now goes back behind closed doors where key differences in this bill will be hammered out the same way the bill was written – in secret, with no transparency or public voice.
“With protesters camping out on sidewalks only blocks from the State House pleading for a voice in their government, it is shameful Beacon Hill clearly hasn’t learned the lessons of its recent past and insists on moving forward with a bill that will only help casino owners, lobbyists and special interests. There is still time to kill this bill and we continue to hope lawmakers and Governor Patrick will see this is clearly a bad bet for Massachusetts.”
CSM's analysis of the proposed gambling bill was picked up by Blue Mass Group, which reported that "[a]s many of us have long suspected, the estimates the gambling interests and their front groups are using are WRONG!"
Copied below is a statement from Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts, in response to claims that casino critics are ‘elitist’ for questioning jobs, revenue and local aid estimates being offered by bill proponents.
“It’s a shame our leaders must resort to name-calling rather than embracing an honest debate on the complex issue of casino gambling. Unfortunately, the cloud of phony outrage at our penetrating analysis of this bill’s failings still hasn’t yielded an answer about the false hope of their baldly inaccurate jobs, local aid and revenue estimates. It’s time they acknowledge the slight job increase casinos will bring aren’t new jobs but replacements for ones lost to casinos by surrounding businesses.
“This bill was worked out in secret by no more than three State House leaders and has been proven by the media to be a larded-up, special interest giveaway co-authored by the casino industry to help feather its nests at the expense of hard-working Bay State residents.”
In an article published on October 11, 2011, the Associated Press reported on Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts' detailed review and analysis of the gambling bill's supposed benefits. According to the AP article, Senate President Therese Murray "dismissed" the reports of potential job losses - unfortunately a recurring theme amongst Beacon Hill leaders - all the while admitting that the introduction of legalized gambling in Massachusetts could result in an initial decrease in state lottery revenues.
Click here for a link to the full article, published by the Boston Herald.
Citizens of the Commonwealth - Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution today to Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts to help us continue to try to educate the public about the unfair and deceptive campaign being waged by our Beacon Hill leaders and casino and slot profiteers and their lobbyists to sell a product that is not only a flawed economic development, revenue and jobs model, but is being rushed to enactment before most citizens and their elected representatives understand that, as presently structured, this product is a massive give away to special interests, and, if used as intended, will cost everyone far more than we gain.
There is still time. Education and prevention are the best and cheapest form of consumer and public protection. Together we can!
Please click on the link to the right to make a donation, and click here to read a letter from CSM President Scott Harshbarger.
This morning, the Boston Globe reported that Suffolk Downs owner Richard Fields has contributed $16,000 to charities closely associated with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino & East Boston state Senator Anthony Petrucelli, a move the Boston Globe said "helped both politicians maintain their political profiles" over the past two years.
Below is a statement from former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, president of Citizens for a Stronger Massachusetts, in reaction to this globe article.
"This morning's Boston Globe highlights yet another instance of the looming shadows stretching into our political, social and now even nonprofit culture by the greedy insiders and shady players that dominate the casino industry. There is clearly much here for the State Ethics Commission, the Attorney General and even the Senate Ethics Committee to review and, if the allegations are true, investigate.
"People ought to be expecting questions about these suspiciously-timed donations during debate today and the public should wonder why the leadership of the House, Senate and Governor Patrick are not seeing that one of the costs of the industry's harmful impacts is the fact that it is already tainting the decisions allegedly being made to help our Commonwealth."