Mass. Casino Proposals A Possible Boon To Taxpayers

The proposed $1 billion casino development outside Gillette Stadium may have to clear an extra hurdle. Foxborough Building Commissioner William Casbarra said besides a town referendum, a town meeting vote will also be necessary to OK zoning changes, and that requires two-thirds approval.

The commissioner’s determination can be appealed, but if if stands it’s a major obstacle. Many in Foxborough are ambivalent about further development.

But if you’re not from Foxborough, you probably want voters there to vote yes.

The resort casino would go up on 200 acres owned by Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots. He’d lease the land to casino developer Steve Wynn. And Wynn has been courting town voters, trying to assure them that a resort casino in Foxborough would be nothing like those he’s built in Las Vegas and China.

“Having Steve Wynn gunning for this license is going to force Suffolk Downs to offer a higher price, which is good for Massachusetts taxpayers.”
– David McAdams, auction theorist

“To put a word to it, if those places are grand or vast or something like that, think of the word ‘intimate’ for me. I think that this is a place that I would make feel intimate,” Wynn said.

If the billionaire sells town residents on the idea, that still doesn’t guarantee a casino will come to Foxborough. It only gives Wynn and Kraft the green light to submit a license application to the state’s Gaming Commission. And to win a license, they’ll have to outbid other proposals in the same license region, namely East Boston’s Suffolk Downs.

“Well the value of having a second competitor is that people will bid more,” said David McAdams, an auction theorist at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

“Having Steve Wynn gunning for this license is going to force Suffolk Downs to offer a higher price, which is good for Massachusetts taxpayers,” McAdams said.

That’s because competitive bids in the secret bidding process would boost the amount the state gets. At a minimum, developers have to pay $85 million up front for a license, hand over 25 percent of revenues and pay additional aid to the town. In East Boston, Suffolk Downs is teaming up with Caesar’s to plan a similar-sized resort to the Foxborough proposal.

“A best-in-class, sort of world-class, high-end facility, that combines gaming, retail, restaurant, hotel, and in our case, does it with horse-racing as a centerpiece,” said the racetrack’s Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle.

But horse racing as a centerpiece won’t win this horse race; more money on the center of the table will.

“There’s the whole issue of maximizing benefits to the state,” said UMass Dartmouth professor Clyde Barrow.

Barrow said the state law requires the Gaming Commission to look at many factors, including overall economic value to the state. He said the Foxborough proposal has the disadvantage of being at the southern edge of the state’s northernmost casino region.

“And essentially, if you locate a casino that far south, you’re effectively leaving the entire northeast region open to New Hampshire, which is already poised to undertake gaming legislation in the spring,” Barrow said.

McAdams agrees that Suffolk Downs has the advantage of being in Boston, further away from other casinos-to-come, with better access to more people.

“There’s lots of reasons why the Gaming Commission is probably predisposed to award this license to Suffolk Downs,” McAdams said.

McAdams said that’s only going to make the men behind the Foxborough proposal make their bid more attractive.

“Wynn and Robert Kraft know what they’re up against. And so the fact that they’re willing to go through all the effort and expense to prepare a serious bid means they think they have a chance of winning! So that puts real pressure on Suffolk Downs. They don’t know how high Wynn and Kraft are gonna go.”

That is, assuming Wynn and Kraft get the go-ahead from Foxborough residents. If voters there say no, all Suffolk Downs has to worry about at this point is a competing proposal in Milford. That one isn’t being financed with pockets as deep as Wynn’s, meaning Suffolk Downs probably wouldn’t have to reach as deep into its pockets.

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  • Steven Norton

    The location issue for the Boston Area casino is currently a two man race,
    and both Foxboro and Suffolk Downs offer some difficult traffic issues for their
    locations on US 1. Sheldon Adelson’s previous location off interstate 435,
    probably made better sense, in access and in nearness to the largest population;
    but would have faced similar issues to Foxboro from the resident and
    adjacent population, with NIMBY (Not in My Backyard).

    New Jersey faced NIMBY in a 1974 statewide referendum that would have
    allowed any county to authorize casino gaming with a follow up county vote. The
    vote was 60% to 40% against. We changed that in the 1976 statewide referendum by limiting casinos to Atlantic City, a dying East Coast resort town, with the 2nd highest subsidized housing percent in the Country. We won that vote 57% to 43%. Additional concessions to sway voters included concessions to State Seniors (their programs got the casino win tax), and the Catholic Church (no Bingo in AC casinos).
    Steven Norton

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Norton,

    Welcome back!

    Your comments regarding Massachusetts issues are always appreciated since you offer first hand experience about the pertinent Predatory Gambling issues from the perspective of a wealthy investor.

    Rather than indicate that this is basically a ‘two man race,’ it does seem significant that the propposed Suffolks Downs location will cost Massachusetts taxpayers + $500 MILLION just for infrastructure improvements. Then there’s that pesky issue of property takings by eminent domain and a few other trivial matters like the location that is problematic if you consult a map.

    The proposed site in Foxborough, a community that has voted overwhelmingly to opppose Predatory Gambling in the past, has a dubious history of backroom deals – there’s that “Pedestrian Bridge” matter and other strange dealings.

    We all know that Steve Wynn is salivating to escape the Las Vegas market and expand.

    First he was rebuffed in Connecticut. Then Philadelphia, as well as other venues. Most recently, he was rebuffed in Florida.

    Opposition to this flawed economic policy is growing as voters understand that what you’re offering is increased crime,traffic,  lowered property values,  community degradation and GAMBLING’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET – suicides caused by Gambling Addicts’ shame.

    When 90% of the profits come from 10% of patrons that promoting ADDICTION.

    Each Slot Machine permanently removes 1.6 jobs from the local economy.

    For each $1 of Gambling Revenue provided to the state, the cost to taxpayers is $3.

    Gambling is extremely profitable because the Industry doesn’t bear the costs of the Addiction it creates.

    Name a community that is better off 5 years after a Slot Barn has been contructed in its midst. I’ve been looking and haven’t found one because it doesn’t exist.

    I believe, since you don’t live in Massachusetts, that you were promoting Sheldon Adelson’s location on Interstate 495. (A quick google search indicated that interstate 435 is in Oklahoma – I know it’s confusing! This is Oklahoma: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2011/08/oklahoma-7-billion-annual-cost-of.html )

    I’m not so sure how readily Massachusetts would embrace Sheldon Adelson.

    There is, after all, the little matter of:

    NUMBER 8: Las Vegas Sands lobbyists are thankful that they haven’t yet had to explain to Floridians why the company is the object of an ongoing federal investigation, and why, exactly, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department are trying to find out if the Sands violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.(Taken from: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Sheldon%20Adelson)

    Massachusetts may not have the Gambling Commission rules established, but ya know, they do have this Puritanical heritage that makes that kind of conduct a little questionable.   


  • Anonymous

    Mr. Norton,

    For the sake of full disclosure, you should highlight your contributions in the degradation of Atlantic City and turning it into the crime ridden slum it currently is, filled with low wage jobs and loss of hope.

    Also, can we discuss your companies that filed bankruptcy, causing taxpayers to absorb their losses? There’s the one in Pennsylvania. Wasn’t that to preserve a ‘casino’ license? How did that work out for you? 

    And there’s the one in Indiana where you made a poor business decision, overpaid for a license and then whined for a state bailout. How’d that work out for you?

    And what is your current position with Northeast in Massachusetts? Weren’t you involved with putting a profitable, functioning company out of business, tossing highly paid workers out on the street, because of their prime location?  Can you offer some insight into your connections to Foundation Gaming?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Griffith/100001640122883 Dave Griffith

      Atlantic City is not a crime-ridden slum. Come and visit and decide for yourself instead of relying on anti-gaming nuts. And Steve Norton is a successful businessman who played by the rules his entire life. Being on the board of a company that went into bankruptcy is not a crime. He had no control over that as a simple board member.

      • Anonymous

        The facts prove otherwise regarding CRIME.

        Nowhere have I suggested that Mr. Norton violated any rules.

        Predatory Gambling exists based on a Business Model of creating NEW Gambling and creating NEW Gambling Addicts.

        When 10% of patrons provide 90% of profits, that’s ADDICTION without which the survival of the Industry wouldn’t exist.

        The Business Model includes inducing those patrons to “Play to Extinction” – until their last dollar is gone, the house is mortgaged, credit cards maxed, every last dollar is borrowed from friends and family, and any possible crime, including embezzlement is accomplished.

      • Anonymous

        Grinols presented a long list of crimes, pathologies and social problems in which Nevada is first or among the leaders in the nation, including first in suicide (double the national average), divorce, gambling addictions, child-abuse deaths and per capita bankruptcy, to cite a few. He said crime associated with gambling is not explained merely by the fact that it draws large numbers of people.His research compared crime at Las Vegas to that at high-tourist destinations not associated with gambling – Branson, Mo.; and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.Las Vegas’ crime rate is 1,040 percent higher than Branson’s and 15.7 times higher than Bloomington’s, Grinols reported, although both destinations draw far more visitors per resident than does Las Vegas.
        A similar pattern is found when comparing crime rates at large tourist destinations in the National Park System to Las Vegas.From: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2011/02/scam-and-myths-of-slot-barns-worth.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Griffith/100001640122883 Dave Griffith

    Even if foxboro turns it down, this isn’t over by a long shot. There are several other gaming companies that have not even been mentioned that would jump in. Remember Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, the most sucessful gaming ocmpany in the world, is a Boston native. He’s got something brewing, no doubt.

    • Anonymous

      Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the poster children for what is wrong with Predatory Gambling.

      If Gambling paved the streets with gold, one would have expected better.

      On average, University of Nevada-Las Vegas scholars William Thompson and William Epstein have found, Clark County adults incur gambling losses averaging $1,511 a year, compared with a U.S.-wide figure of $391.

      Can it then be by sheer happenstance that Nevada leads the nation, year by year, in such crimes as murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery and burglary? That Nevada tops the 50 states in rates of personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures? That the state’s suicide rate regularly doubles the national average?

      Message to legislators in the other 49 states: Is the Las Vegas/Nevada model — and price — one you seriously want to emulate? http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2011/09/americas-gambling-addiction-threatens.html

      Ignored in that comment is that Las Vegas has the highest school dropout rate and Nevada has the lowest college attainment rate.

      Casino Capitalist didn’t work last time we tried it and won’t work now.

    • Anonymous

      For me, the most bothersome fact was discovering that Gambling Addiction has the lowest rate of self-referral and the highest rate of SUICIDE – the Gambling Industry’s Dirty Little Secret.

      You might find this moving:

  • Anonymous

    Articles regarding Sheldon Adelson may be found here: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/search/label/Sheldon%20Adelson

    This was included:
    NUMBER 8: Las Vegas Sands lobbyists are thankful that they haven’t yet had to explain to Floridians why the company is the object of an ongoing federal investigation, and why, exactly, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department are trying to find out if the Sands violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.Although the Massachusetts Gambling Commission has yet to estabilish rules, regulations and a process, that along with several other issues cloud Mr. Adelson’s reputation.

  • Anonymous

    From: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/07/crime-in-atlantic-city.html

    Of CRIME –…expecting to see a “clean and safe” Atlantic City by July 1, 2011. Many casino executives and city officials have argued that safety concerns are merely based on inaccurate perceptions, which the governor alluded to during his visit to Atlantic City this week.

    But the McKinsey report refers to it as fact, citing statistics that show the city’s violent crime rate in 2009 far exceeded the national average and trumps other cities such as Trenton and Biloxi, Miss, according to federal statisitics.Those statistics are widely available and frequesntly misstated by the Industry.

  • Anonymous

    From: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/05/sands-promises-promises-promises.html

    In Slots = Community DegradationFrom Texas Republicans Got It Right About Slots!

    Skyrocketing Crime

    Sept. 2004 research showed casinos hiked violent crime 13%.

    Everywhere video slot machines have been legalized, crime rates have skyrocketed, including aggravated assault, rape, robbery, larceny, burglary, auto theft, embezzlement, and fraud.
    1st 3 years of gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey went from 50th in nation in per capita crime to 1st in the nation.

    From Ohio Gambling Opposition

    In Atlantic City, 25% of small businesses closed 3 years after casinos opened. Prior to casinos, the unemployment rate in Atlantic City was 30% higher than the rest of the state. 10 years later, it is 50% higher than the rest of the state.

  • Anonymous

    From: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2010/06/beacon-hills-gullibility.html 

    After some sputtering among the panelists, one finally acknowledged it [starting wgae] was about
    $10 an hour

    of Atlantic City

    Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia –
    …in 1999 the city’s poverty rate was 23.6 percent, while the national rate was 11.3 percent; unemployment stood at 12.9 percent in 2000, compared to 5.8 percent in the nation.3 The city’s poverty rate is actually a bit higher than before the beginning of legalized gambling in 1978, when the city was in sharp economic decline, following its loss in popularity as a beach resort in the mid-twentieth century.4 The research conducted by the Philadelphia team sheds light on the workforce paradox of plentiful jobs co-existing with high rates of poverty and unemployment.
    …the low-skill service jobs available in casinos or other industries may not provide enough income to escape poverty. Residents often noted that they or someone they knew held two or three casino jobs in order to make ends meet.

  • Anonymous

    I believe this exemplifies the costs states bear to subsidize the Gambling Industry: http://middlebororemembers.blogspot.com/2011/08/oklahoma-7-billion-annual-cost-of.html

    $7 billion — Last year’s estimated social cost to families and communities from gambling-related bankruptcy, divorce, crime and job loss.

    48 percent — Gamblers Anonymous members who considered suicide. 57 percent — Gamblers Anonymous members who admitted stealing to finance their gambling.
    100 percent — The presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gamblers.

  • Anonymous

    The Gambling Industry removes discretionary income from the local economy, destroying small businesses in a process called ‘cannibalization’ that was analyzed in the Spectrum Gaming Report prepared for the CT DOSR, available in its entirety on the United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts web site:

  • Anonymous

    This article was interesting:
    Nevada is No. 1 in unemployment, divorce and violent crime

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Griffith,

    Maybe you could comment on the lost local jobs, an experience shared with Atlantic City.
    I happened to find this recent article that addresses the issue although there are numerous reports as well:
    Casinos Killed Jobs in Illinois

    Instead of labeling those who oppose Predatory Gambling, an Industry that preys on the weakness of others, ‘anti-gaming nuts,’ those that I have encountered in the growing movement that opposes this flawed public policy, maybe you could name a community that is better off 5 years after a Slot Barn has been constructed in its midst.  It surely isn’t Atlantic City.

    And in your response, maybe you could disclose your connection to the Gambling Industry.

  • Crpcrp Parker

    I vote yes to foxboro casino if dramatic infrastructure improvements r made, let’s c the proposal.

    • Anonymous

      How much will those “infrastructure improvements” cost Massachusetts taxpayers? How much will this proposal cost Foxborough residents?

      Shouldn’t you/they be asking that first?



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