Audio: Casino gaming splits governor candidates

Three Dems oppose repeal, one in favor

The Democratic candidates for governor are split on casino gambling, with one opposed, one in favor, and two somewhat reluctant supporters. At a forum this week with four of the five Democrats running for governor, the casino question prompted one of the sharpest exchanges.

Click here for audio of the gubernatorial forum. The segment on casinos runs from 59:35 to 1:06:28.

Don Berwick said he opposes casinos and supports the effort to repeal the state gaming law with a ballot question this November. “It’s a very bad deal for the state,” he said of casino gaming.

Stephen Grossman, the current state treasurer, said he opposes the repeal effort and continues to support the gaming law because of the jobs it will generate. He noted 270,000 people are out of work in Massachusetts, and casinos will bring construction work and permanent jobs paying more than $40,000. He also said studies indicate casino gaming will generate $300 million in net new revenues for the state each year, enough to fund universal per-kindergarten.

Joe Avellone said he is not a big fan of casino gaming but believes the state should allow the law to work. He opposes the referendum question because he doesn’t like making laws on the ballot. “We don’t want to turn ourselves into California,” he said.

Juliette Kayyem pushed back on the notion that Gov. Deval Patrick was an advocate for casino gaming. She said he didn’t run for office on a casino platform and embraced the concept as a way to increase state revenues. She said next year’s budget is relying on money generated from casinos and policymakers need to accept that reality. “I am not for the repeal,” she said. In an exchange with Berwick, she insisted she wasn’t one of those people who favor casino gambling as long as it isn’t in her backyard. She said she would embrace a casino in her hometown of Cambridge “if my jurisdiction voted for it.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Attorney General Martha Coakley did not attend the forum because of a previous commitment. Coakley ruled the proposed repeal question could not legally be placed on the ballot, a decision that is currently being challenged before the Supreme Judicial Court. A decision is expected within the next 45 days.

The forum Tuesday was hosted by A Better City, the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, and CommonWealth magazine at District Hall in Boston’s Innovation District. Another forum with the two Republican candidates for governor, Charlie Baker and Mark Fisher, is scheduled for June 2.