Should New York’s casino worries be ours, too?

A Northeast Democratic governor determined to boost state revenue and job growth goes all-in on a push for four new gambling facilities. Nearby states are eating his state’s lunch when it comes to gambling revenue, and it’s time to do something about it.

But just as the casino venture gets going, doubts are raised about the regional market, with Atlantic City casinos closing and Connecticut’s tribal gambling facilities seeing a falloff in revenue, with layoffs deemed likely. There is talk of a market that’s nearing saturation and of revenue and jobs estimates that may have been overblown.

 

“He’s 15 years too late to the party,” a gambling industry analyst says of the governor’s plans.

Words of warning to Deval Patrick? No. The governor in question here is Andrew Cuomo, whose big casino plans for New York get a good raking over the coals in a front-page New York Times takeout. The piece paints a picture of a shaky industry that’s testing the limits of the appetite for more casinos across the country.

Among the eye-catching data points the article reports: More than half of the population of the Northeast US now lives within 25 miles of a gambling facility with video lottery, table games, or slot machines, up from just 10 percent a decade ago.

“I think the entire industry knows that there’s too much supply for the demand that’s out there,” Richard McGowan, an economics professor at Boston College who studies casino gambling, tells the Times. “The gusher is over.”

None of that is to say that Massachusetts casinos — if they survive a November ballot question seeking repeal of the state casino law — can’t make it. But there are all sorts of warning signs that big changes in the gambling landscape mean an extra note of caution and uncertainty should be introduced into any projections of how casinos will fare. That certainly seems true when considering those made six years ago in a state-commissioned report. A CommmonWealth scrub of the projections touted by Patrick when he announced his support for casinos in late 2007 raised questions even then about whether the forecast was too rosy.

Kevin Burke, who served as Patrick’s secretary of public safety during his first term, chaired an earlier 2002 state commission that looked at the issue of expanded gambling in Massachusetts. ”Quantifying the economic development potential of expanded gambling is a complex project,” it concluded, “and predictions done before development are notoriously inaccurate.”

MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Keller@Large is actually okay with the State House renovations but says while they’re at it, lawmakers should put some money into upgrading the markings and signage of the Freedom Trail in front of the State House.

A year after their 34-year-old son’s sudden death, a Stoneham couple waits for final word on its cause from a state medical examiner’s office plagued with problems.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Quincy’s public housing tenants want HUD to inspect all the units run by the embattled Quincy Housing Authority after state audits and inspections found numerous health, safety, and financial problems.

With several contentious matters and growing public anger in Fall River, Mayor Will Flanagan, the focus of a planned recall effort that is among the issues fanning the flames, will beef up police presence at public meetings.

CASINOS

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoes a sports betting bill designed to help Atlantic City, Governing reports.

Penn National pushes ahead with its Plainville slots parlor, notwithstanding November’s casino repeal referendum.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

A study by Colorado Department of Health finds that marijuana use among teens in the Rocky Mountain high state has dropped since voters legalized the weed for recreational use, falling below the national average in 2013.

A riot breaks out in a St. Louis suburb after police kill an unarmed, black teenager. Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio grapples with the aftermath of a black man’s death in police custody.

ELECTIONS

Broadside examines Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s softening poll numbers. Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos sees low turnout in September’s primary contests, thanks to voter apathy and a largely uncompetitive state legislature.

The political polling industry is a mess, says FiveThirtyEight.

An amendment tucked inside the recently passed state budget saves the pension of ex-Lawrence mayor William Lantigua, the Boston Herald reports.

Republicans escalate their hard-line stance on immigration.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Another day, another round of charges in the Market Basket saga.

Meals taxes are helping to fuel  municipal governments.

EDUCATION

The state’s public universities are enjoying a fundraising surge, with annual private fundraising now nearly double what it was 10 years ago. CommonWealth reported on the surge in its summer issue, but noted the investment return on the money has been disappointing.

Former Westfield State University president Evan Dobelle inflated the number of international students attending the school on trips abroad.

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Smartphone “hookup” apps appear to be dangerous to users’ health, with an increase in sexually-transmitted disease being tied to the sites.

Former Harvard football player and professional wrestler Chris Nowinski, who has drawn praise for his work calling attention to the dangers of traumatic brain injuries, is now drawing questions about a venture he has launched to charge firms to certify their concussion-monitoring products.

TRANSPORTATION

The Globe reports that the number of people trying to board airplanes with guns has been on the rise.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

States like Massachusetts are more hospitable to solar power than sunshine states such as Florida, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A new study shows despite more than 1,700 working farms in southeastern Massachusetts, area residents still aren’t buying local direct, spending a little more than $5 per capita annually at farms stands and farmers markets.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The New Year’s Day disappearance of an Avon man has a Dedham police officer and three other men facing charges — but not yet in connection with his presumed death.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

MEDIA

Deadline Hollywood reports big stars and directors are backing a new movie called Spotlight about the Boston Globe’s investigation of pedophile Catholic priests. Michael Keaton is playing Spotlight editor Walter Robinson and Liev Schreiber has the role of former Globe editor Marty Baron.