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Editorial: Casino catastrophe

Is anybody in the common-wealth paying attention to what’s going on down in Atlantic City, N.J.?

Back in 1976, when the first casino was built in the famous boardwalk city, developers told officials that they’d hit solid gold.

And at first, it seemed to be true. Tens of thousands of gamblers flocked to the Shore, driving down from New York or north Jersey or from Philadelphia. The Turnpike and the Parkway from chock-full of buses, limos and just plain folks eager to try their luck and take in a show or two.

It was just like Las Vegas, only closer.

But it wasn’t.

Every racetrack tout, every pimp with a few bucks in is pocket, every mugger or con man within 200 hundred miles headed for the new casinos.

It wasn’t a Las Vegas crowd, it was a OTB parlor crowd, and crime soared.

The city, using its new tax revenue, put on more cops, and eventually got a handle on things, but without the built-in isolation of the desert that Las Vegas enjoys, it was hard to keep the crooks out and make things safe for the average Joe.

Vegas cops struggle, but Atlantic City never had a chance.

And then, when the economy began to sag and new casinos were built in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, profits sagged, and things really got bad. Shore resort gaming revenue fell from $5.2 billion in 2006 to $2.9 billion last year.

As a result, the Showboat Atlantic City is set to close on Aug. 31 and the Trump Plaza on Sept. 16 ... and the Revel is bankrupt. The city stands to lose about a third of its property-tax revenue — about $75 million — if all four casinos go dark.

As many as 8,000 Atlantic City casino workers could be without work by the end of the summer.

Is anyone in Springfield reading these stories and considering ALL the possibilities?

look at Reno, Nevada. See how many casinos have closed there. Nevada does not have a state income tax, the money from casinos are the reason for that. Every time a casino opens in California it takes away from the casinos in Nevada. Most of the Indian casinos are managed by the casinos in Nevada. So the casinos are not hurting as much as the state. However the casinos in California are not all doing very well. When government dabbles in business there are unintended results The idea of a train running up through Springfield, Greenfield to Canada seems to be another boondoggle. Amtrak dose not make money, it costs money. As with health care and energy the government has shown it does and is not competent to do business.

Lots of folks in Springfield and all over the state think it's a horrible idea. It will directly compete with the State's lottery, which at least raises money for state programs. It will bring dead end jobs to an area that is already suffering from the 22 Billion dollar debt incurred by the "Big Dig" investor grab, which we'll be paying for til 2038. Casinos seem constructed to deprive the working poor and the disenfranchised of even more money while bringing in a host of other problems: and the city is already overburdened with far more than its share of problems. This has been discussed now for decades. Casinos around the nation are increasingly neglected, unprofitable and seedy. Las Vegas loses money like a sieve and is scrambling to come up with its own alternatives to increase revenue. Why our state is considering this as any kind of "economic development" plan is mystery: its an idea that has already proven worthless. Investors: they make money whether something works or doesn't work, by encouraging "investment" in gambling centers.

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