Property tax relief like that suggested by Springfield City Councilor Timothy Rooke (May 17) is usually part of the promises package made by pro-casino groups. Fulfilling these million dollar promises requires long-term profitability. But, isn't the longer-term profitability in doubt?
For proof, look no further than Connecticut. For the past year, "Connecticut (has been) losing gaming revenue at a pretty rapid pace," according to Moody's Investors Service Inc. The newer casinos near New York City have increased competition. What happens to a Western Massachusetts casino if New York allows a casino near Albany?
At Foxwoods Resort Casino, payments to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation owners have stopped. Fifty layoffs have occurred with more expected. Remaining jobs are mostly lower wage. The United Auto Workers local is in a contract dispute over wages and other issues. The tribe is again applying to the Federal government for assistance.
Two other threats: First, our state treasurer admits he doesn't know what impact casinos will have on lottery revenues and second, online gaming is already legal in three states. Will this be the next big push by the gaming industry?
A Western Massachusetts casino is not inevitable. Springfield will vote on this issue on or about July 16. If we vote "no," they can't bring a casino in. Springfield residents have voted "no" on casinos at least twice in the past.
Residents of West Springfield and Palmer should watch to see when their referendum vote is scheduled.
A lower voter turnout will likely favor the pro-casino position. For information go to, www.citizensagainstcasinogaming.com