Why Vote No?

Why Vote No?

Question 1 is a flagrant abuse of the ballot question process.

It was filed by one developer, for one site, for one purpose: his own financial benefit. The drafters of the Massachusetts Constitution designed our ballot question process to give the people a voice on statewide issues, not as an an end-run around the legislative process for wealthy developers and corporate interests.

Question 1 would allow for a fourth casino proposal in the vicinity of Suffolk Downs.

The question of a casino near Suffolk Downs has already been asked and answered three times, and there is no reason to revisit it now. The first proposal was withdrawn due to serious questions raised by allegations of criminal ties and inappropriate conduct on the part of Caesars Entertainment. The second was voted down by East Boston residents, and the third was denied by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission even after the Commission changed its own rules to give Suffolk Downs a second chance.

Why do the People of Massachusetts Oppose this?

The S.R.E.D. opposition argument is as follows:

  • Legalized casino gambling in the Commonwealth is too new and unproven to expand at this time.
  • Only one slot parlor has opened in Massachusetts, and it is significantly under-performing.
  • Five casinos are expected to open in Massachusetts by 2019. The Wall Street Journal warns that New England already has more casinos than the market wants or needs.
  • This ballot question was written by one casino developer, for one purpose: his own financial gain. It disrupts the process and limits established by the Legislature to protect communities and existing businesses.
  • Proponents of the ‘Act Relative to Gaming’ have traveled across the globe to exploit the Commonwealth and send a message to other casino developers – they can come to Massachusetts and do the same.

Question 1 opens the door to even more casinos before we have had an opportunity to assess negative impacts in their host communities and statewide.

Only one casino will have opened in the Commonwealth as of Election Day, and up to three massive resort casinos and at least one tribal casino could be operating within the next few years. Even at this early stage, casino lobbyists already wield disproportionate power in the Massachusetts legislature. If Question 1 were to pass, we should expect that this result will immediately be used in support of more campaigns for new casino licenses, with even more illusory promises of jobs and revenues. This early push for expansion is especially concerning given the Wall Street Journal‘s warning that the Northeastern U.S. casino market was approaching a “saturation point” even before the first Massachusetts casino opened in June 2015. In the words of Boston Globe columnist and long-time casino supporter Shirley Leung: “Enough is enough.”

Question 1 in no way directly benefits Suffolk Downs or any other horse racing track.

Suffolk Downs itself would have no ownership interest in the proposed casino, and would receive no direct benefit from it. While a percentage of any Massachusetts casino’s profits are legally required to go toward the statewide Horse Racing Fund, this fund alone may not be enough to save New England horse racing.

Opposition to casinos is not a partisan issue.

No matter your choices in local, state, and national elections–and no matter your views on charter schools (Question 2), humane treatment of farm animals (Question 3), or the legalization of marijuana (Question 4)–surveys show that both Republicans and Democrats tend to oppose casinos in comparable numbers. Liberal and progressive voters are often justifiably concerned by the casino industry’s predatory practices and knowing exploitation of the poor, people of color, and the elderly to create and sustain the victims of gambling addiction who keep casinos in business. Conservatives and libertarians just as rightly take issue with the industry’s inappropriate influence over state and local governments (often inevitably leading to taxpayer-funded bailouts when casinos fail), invasive data collection, and the widespread social, economic, and other known harms to their host communities and beyond. And even dedicated casino supporters can recognize that.