Dig blogger -- and then in turn Jon
Kennedy, and Charley at Blue Mass group -- have jumped all over a Boston Globe
reference to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's estimate that its casino "could
generate up to $100 million a year in additional state revenue." $100
million? Chump change, these bloggers say. Barely worth collecting. Wouldn't bend over to
pick it up off the sidewalk.
Hold up a sec. Sure, the Mashpee tribe's casino COULD generate $100m a year -- if
the tribe swings an incredibly savory deal with the state. Or, it COULD
generate $200 million a year for the state, as the Aquinnah Wampanoag estimated
its planned casino would, back in 2002. Or, the Mashpee COULD pay the state an annual
$200m licensing fee, plus taxes worth some $15m a year, as UMass-Dartmouth's
Clyde Barrow has proposed. Or it COULD provide between $250m and $500m a year, as one
state lawmaker has said.
And that's one casino. Together, casinos COULD generate between $135m and
$450m, as a 2002 study prepared for Jane Swift projected. Or, state
revenues from three casinos COULD run between a half-billion to a billion dollars a year, as
Treasurer Tim Cahill has estimated.
Who the hell knows? My point here is that folks should be wary of
making too much of one offhand, loosely-sourced figure on the lowest end -- and might want to think twice about engaging in a debate over how much state revenue makes it "worth" allowing casinos.
After all, if the data looks closer to the high-end estimate of $1 billion a
year…. well, that starts to look like real money, doesn’t it? If you
want to play the "it could pay for..." game, a billion dollars could
just about double the entire Department of Public Health AND Department of Mental
Or, more relevantly, it could add a billion dollars to municipal budgets every year. That's roughly $39 million for Worcester. $21m for Brockton. $27m for Fall River. It's $10m for Fitchburg, a city that spent much of this year debating whether to decertify its library to help close a $730,000 budget deficit. Stoneham -- which was forced this summer to eliminate its entire $750,000 high school athletics program, and subsequently revived it by adopting a massive trash fee -- would get $2.5 million every year.