Here’s some insight into why elected officials go to great lengths to keep voters from deciding whether to allow casinos: Voters in Foxboro, Mass. overwhelmingly backed a slate of casino opponents in the town selectmen’s race on Monday.
The vote was big setback to Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn’s plan to team with New England Patroits owner Bob Kraft to bring a casino to Foxboro. “Monday’s election was the first time local voters have weighed in on a casino proposal since Massachusetts’ expanded gambling law passed last year,” The Boston Globe reported. ”The voting margins seemed to confirm academic studies that suggest casino opponents are highly motivated voters who turn out in great percentages.”
Elected officials know that most voters oppose casinos because they know the problems outweigh the benefits. That’s why in many states, lawmakers hold late-night votes and cut backroom deals when it comes to casinos. The last thing elected officials or casino operators want is a full, fair, open, honest and independent debate about the social and economic impact of casinos.
In fact, Massachusetts officials essentially crafted the casino law in secret before ramming it through the state House and Senate. The measure was influenced by casino industry lobbyists, and not the public good. A similar playbook has been followed in other states, including Pennsylvania, where lawmakers legalized gambling in a late-night vote that avoided little public debate.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is following the same road map in New York, though voters there will have the final say. Of course, by then the casino industry will have spent millions of dollars shaping public opinion, while the state avoids an independent analysis regarding the true costs of gambling.