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The casino gamble

Posted in: Gambling
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If you’re a state leader or a casino mogul lustily eyeing the gambling licenses up for grabs in Massachusetts, did you smile giddily or break into a cold sweat when reading yesterday’s New York Times Magazine cover story on the rough times at Foxwoods, the Connecticut mega-casino whose lunch we are supposed to be preparing to eat?

Probably a little bit of both. Foxwoods’s troubles have come in part from increased competition -- from things like the new slots at Aqueduct racetrack in New York and the huge expansion of gambling in Pennsylvania. Massachusetts is now poised to join in the feeding frenzy that is “cannibalizing” Foxwoods customers. That prospect can bring smiles here. The sweat beads come from the realization that the current woes at Foxwoods are likely to be the future problems of Massachusetts casinos, as New Hampshire, New York, and other states look to get in on more of the gambling action.

The story, which details the $2.3 billion in debt that Foxwoods has amassed, offers some other sobering observations. Today’s casino market is mostly a middle-aged crowd, and the growth of online poker means lots of young people “may never become casino habitues,” writes Michael Sokolove. “So at the same time that brick-and-mortar casinos are proliferating, the demographics may be working against the industry.”

Sokolove says such trends smack “of the despair you hear in the newspaper business over the advanced age of the core customers and the fear that younger people do not like the product enough to replace them.”

Today’s Globe reports that Steve Crosby, chairman of the new Massachusetts Gaming Commission, is warning that the casino legislation he is working under has several unrealistic deadlines that would force his panel to rush their work. A tight timetable for  pushing ahead the state’s entry into the casino business, however, may turn out to be the least of the challenges.

                                                                                                                                        --MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray shows up at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast dressed in race car driver clothes, and JKIII pokes fun at himself with a top ten list, NECN reports. US Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren play big roles at the breakfast, WBUR reports.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that lawmakers should revisit the flawed three-strikes bill.

There are now four Democrats vying for the seat of retiring state Rep. Geraldine Creedon.

Eight states get Fs on transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption mechanisms, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity. Massachusetts received a C.

OCCUPY

Boston Phoenix reporter Chris Faraone sits down on Keller@Large to talk about his new book about the time he spent embedded with the Occupy Boston movement.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The bidding process for the new Quincy Middle School was halted after a suit was filed by group representing nonunion construction workers challenging the city’s “responsible employer” mandate which requires, among other things, that one-third of the project’s workers be Quincy residents.

Wellesley examines the problem of hidden homelessness.
 
NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

US Reps. John Olver and James McGovern were arrested along with actor George Clooney outside of the Sudanese embassy, NECN reports.

Economist Alan Blinder talks budget deficits and other apocalyptic matters.

ELECTION 2012

William Kristol revives an exchange from a 2008 debate in New Hampshire in which Mitt Romney says he was for mandates before being against them now. And for good measure the Weekly Standard runs the piece with a picture of Romney and the late Ted Kennedy.

John McCain speaks: The 2008 GOP presidential nominee says that the party needs to back off the contraception issue and get back to talking about jobs and the economy. Rick Santorum talks about the economy, but only to point out what a city-loving liberal rich guy Mitt Romney is. The New York Times previews the Illinois primary, where a rightward-drifting electorate is adding to Romney’s heartburn.

Mitt Romney advises President Obama to fire three of his cabinet members, a group Romney dubbed the “gas hike trio.” The Globe reports that Romney’s pledge of hefty defense budget spending will be hard to meet.

GOP leaders say Democratic US Rep. John Tierney is beatable.

CHARITY

The Chronicle of Philanthropy offers a conflicting portrait of nonprofit foundations with several stories from their annual survey showing 71 percent of major foundations expect their grant giving to be flat or decrease because of the stubborn recession. At the same time, though, the Chronicle says most foundations gave out raises in 2011, with the median salary rising 14.2 percent ion the last five years.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Tennessee legislature passes a resolution pleading with quarterback Peyton Manning to sign with the Tennessee Titans, Governing reports.

Wall Street lines up for Fannie Mae-owned foreclosures.

EDUCATION

The National Review posits that reducing federal subsidies of private colleges and universities can actually bring the cost of education down at what they label the “college cartel.”

HEALTH CARE

The Northeastern University Initiative for Investigative Reporting documents how the state’s medical board simply disappears records of doctors with embarrassing histories.

New “urgent care centers” may provide a solution to soaring health care costs and heavy use of hospital emergency rooms, the Globe reports.

New York magazine profiles the lawyer behind the Supreme Court challenges to nationalized health care.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Gas drilling did not contaminate the ground water in a Pennsylvania town at the center of a debate about the safety of fracking, Governing reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A nine-year-old third grader in West Yarmouth manages to get out of jury duty.

MEDIA

A new Pew report assesses the state of the news media in 2012. Newspapers were the only platform that failed to show any audience growth.

Time explores “the richer sex,” explaining why women are overtaking men as America’s breadwinners and why that’s good for everyone.

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