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Thursday, September 16, 2004

Let's Gamble, for Nipmuc's Sake

It's always a good time when two of the Bay State's intellectuals from the state House of Representatives pen an op-ed, and it's doubly good when they decide to argue for bringing casino gambling to Massachusetts (they drop the "bl" and call it by the less scary-sounding name of "gaming" instead). It warms my heart to see, under the headline "Massachusetts needs casinos", passages like this:

The Nipmuc Nation won recognition from the outgoing Clinton administration in 2001, then saw that approval held up by the incoming Bush administration. After a grueling four-year process, the tribe was summarily denied. This is a tribe that has state recognition and a long and well documented history and ongoing community and political involvement, even though Bay Colony settlers stripped them of their land and much of their heritage.

I'm willing to believe that Connecticut's AG sabotaged the tribe's bid for recognition, but still, it strains credulity a tad to think that George Peterson Jr. and Mark Carron would be going to bat for the Nipmucs were it not for the prospect of casino gambling on the horizon. Is this really a good way to deal with whatever lingering guilt we feel about what the Pilgrims did?

The reps' point appears to be that since Massachusetts residents spend lots of money at the Connecticut casinos, we should get casinos here so that the money stays in-state. The problem with that is that having casinos even closer means that Bay Staters will be dropping even more cash at the craps tables, and for gambling opponents, that is not a good thing. Sure, the people who work at the casino get jobs from it, but at the same time the poor bastards with the gambling addictions go further into debt and have their lives ruined. It's not much of a benefit to add some state revenues if in the process we augment the social ills that need to be addressed. Not surprisingly, that's the argument Peterson and Carron fail to grasp.

At least it's not the worst op-ed in the paper today--that honor goes to Alex Beam, who is a little late writing on Fahrenheit 9/11 and has no point.