Would slot machines in bars help us out?

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor



I've been thinking about gambling in Massachusetts and how we are clearly at an impasse over casino gambling. Although I think a majority of people would like to see casinos in the Bay State, the process of approving legislation, licensing and locating casinos is a cumbersome one that would only produce revenues for the state in the distant future.

We're not talking about casinos as a cultural or entertainment addition to our many offerings here, but rather as a way to create a new revenue stream.

It's all about the cash, baby.

Why not take advantage of what we have already in our quest for some more gambling receipts? We already have a state-run gambling infrastructure in place. It's not just the sale of scratch tickets and weekly chances for the drawings, but we have Keno in hundreds of bars, restaurants and even convenience stores. So why not license slot machines for some of these locations?

The state lottery people could come up with a formula that would stipulate how many slots a bar could have based on its size. The business owner and the state would share the earning.

Would the amount generated be the millions of dollars a casino might bring? No, but slots in bars already licensed for Keno circumvents the insurmountable logistical and bureaucratic challenges posed by bringing in casino gambling. It also gets past the moral objections some people have expressed. Slots are no worse than the other forms of gambling the government already offers.

You see the moral arguments have always confused me especially in light of churches conducting bingo games which are gambling operations to fund religious activities. Would Christ have approved? Let's not go there.

The most I've ever spent on a slot has been $10. Personally, I get no thrill from gambling. I think the odds of most games would indicate the money spent is money wasted, but who am I to judge? Millions of people enjoy gambling.

So is there a state rep or senator out there willing to consider this idea?

***

Conventional political wisdom preaches that incumbents are best served by limiting debates with challengers as it can only give a challenger free press and attention. I always appreciate an elected official who is willing to engage in debates as it shows he or she has the courage of run on his or her record and understands the democratic process.

So I'm waiting to see just how Sen. John Kerry responds to the debate request made by his Democratic challenger Ed O'Reilly. So far the Kerry camp has said they are trying to work out a debate schedule around Kerry's schedule.

Let's be frank for a moment: despite being in office over 20 years, Kerry isn't much a known quantity in Western Massachusetts. We see him infrequently. Ted Kennedy might not be seen here a lot either, but his staff sends out press releases almost daily. I seldom get anything from Kerry's office.

O'Reilly is full of vinegar and seems ready to not just take on Kerry, but to tell the electorate of his ideas.

I hope Kerry does the right thing and agrees to a series of debates.

***

People come to me with a lot of ideas and opinions and ace Reminder Publications Account Manager Matt "Mad Dog" Mahaney is no different. Although Matt usually lobbies me to review DVD sets like the fifth season of "Bewitched" (he is the only guy I know who obsesses on which "Darren" was better) he came to me the other day with a proposal I've not heard before.

"G., do you like February?" he asked.

"Uhhh, what do you mean?" I countered.

"No one likes February, so I think we should move the extra day of leap year to June," he said.

He explained since June had better weather than February, people would enjoy having an extra day of summer.

I couldn't muster a comment as he insisted I mention his idea in my column. Since his efforts help pay my way here, I thought I should do him the courtesy.

I am thinking, however, of installing a lock on my door.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to mdobbs@thereminder.com or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.

 
 
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