Archive for Gambling

No! Town, Boston

You want to do something exciting and edgy? Boston will watch from a distance.

Let’s not talk about the old Banned-in-Boston literature and performance. Let’s not talk about Blue Laws. Let’s come to recent times, the past few years

The mayor, other pols, and citizens have defeated:

  • Summer Olympics
  • More, easy-to-get liquor licenses
  • A single F1 car race
  • In town casino
  • 24-hour mass transit
  • Late-night mass transit

What gives in a city, town really, that loves to brag it is world class? Alas, Adam Gaffin over at is like spot on when it call this the city that always sleeps.

A few centuries ago, Boston and Charleston SC were seen as sister cities. Their social conservatism accounted for much of the zeitgeist. They did develop stifling Blue Laws together. Boston also hid behind Puritans, then and still it ducks behind its Roman Catholicism. Those were supposed to account for and excuse the petty and nasty limits on human behavior, speech and even thought.

I’ve lived in Boston for 36 years, after a decade in Manhattan. I draw my conclusions on why this town will live vicariously through its huge student population and asthenic arts life, as though that was plenty of vitality and creativity for everyone. Harrumph.

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King Who Would Be Senator Podcast

Dropping note: OK, boys and girls, word at MassLive is that King decided to drop out of the race the day after our show with him. I hope it wasn’t something we said. Enjoy the commentary in that context.

Jim King does not accept being an afterthought candidate in the race for the Dem nomination to challenge US Sen. Scott Brown this fall. He figures his platform is the best, he’ll have enough money to compete, and he’ll get the 10,000 signatures and 15% of party delegates for the June convention. He intends to get on the September ballot, at the very least.

He takes strong positions, which he tends to back up with detailed historical and economic reasoning. Some, like energy independence and employment, he has particular passions for as well.

He told us plainly why he was in the race. “Number one is to beat Scott Brown,” he said. He believes the incumbent’s victory in the special election following Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death was an anomaly. He feels Kennedy “gave us a tremendous legacy,” one Brown has not done well by. He added that this position may not be Kennedy’s seat, “but he showed us how to use it.”

Click below to listen to King’s positions including:

  • Jobs — we need WPA/TVA-style public works projects as well as developing and expanding high-tech here
  • Casinos — no economic panacea
  • Corporate taxes — eliminate outdated subsidies like petroleum depletion and exploration credits, and make U.S. companies pay taxes on foreign holdings
  • Immigration — For non-violent/non-drug crime illegal immigrants, have them pay fines, make them follow the path to citizenship, and forget expensive, counterproductive long jail terms or deportation
  • Regressive politics — Brown among other GOP legislators are too often atavistic in promoting states-rights positions on health-care and more

King also believes that there is enough money to fund important development, like tidal power plants and wind turbines, without tapping the military budget. He acknowledges that self-interested Congress members might prefer to send money to pet projects, but he says, “Then let’s have a fight about it.”

His website has a clear, detailed section for each of his position.

icon for podpress  Jim King [32:04m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Murphy on the Heart of the City

Boston City Council President Stephen Murphy joins us. We talk about what must be done and what’s possible for the city.

He came through a hotly contested at-large Councilor contest. Recently reelected to a second term at the head of Council, he’s long been the body’s money-and-numbers guy. This time, he faces complex, tough debates and disagreements on the likes of casino gambling in Boston.

To catch this Valentine’s Day show live, go here Tuesday, Feb. 14th, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward, you can listen on demand there, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTune channel.

You can prime yourself for this show by returning to the last time he was on with us. Click here for that.


Grossman Casinos Podcast

Steve Grossman talked casinos, commissioners, goals, and site awards with us for the law in place to allow three casinos and a single slots parlor in MA. The public wants action — revenue, short and long-term jobs, and other proof that large-scale commercial gambling (euphemistically gaming) beyond the lottery is the right thing to do.

Treasurer and Receiver General Steve Grossman joined Left Ahead today for an abbreviated (20-minute) show focused precisely on the what-now factor. Click the player below to hear what he says about:

  • Selection of the five commissioners to set up and oversee the works
  • What we expect to gain from the operations
  • How fast we ramp up
  • What his concerns are about the commissioner he picks, the two others he co-chooses, and the whole process

Even though he’s the commonwealth’s pivotal money man and financial policy visionary, Grossman is quick to point out that he’s largely a spectator once the commission’s in place and the sites are awarded. He guides at this stage and then has to be hands off. Ideally, he’ll be figuratively counting money from the operational proceeds.

It was just he and I today on this short show. I was plain about my trepidation.

Grossman inspires the obvious observation that he was an Eagle Scout and like most of them largely remains the honest and stalwart fellow. In that vein, he stressed how demanding he will be in his choice of commissioner. The Governor has already chosen the chair, the Attorney General gets a pick, and the three of them agree among themselves on the other two to make five. The process at least on paper/online looks like the qualifications in the description and application will avoid conflicts of interest, guarantee objectivity as much as humanly possible, and bring the proper mix of relevant knowledge and skills. Check the commonwealth site here for the specs and application.

I was also very concerned about the vague and seemingly naive objectives in the law itself. Scroll to lines 138 through 149 for key goals. Pretty much, the lawmakers and governor want new jobs as well as protection and expansion of local business and tourism.

These generalizations are a far cry from what is in the literature about successful implementations of gambling facilities. Most of those are overseas and typically took years of planning and bids that required the investing company to spend tens of millions meeting the governments specifications in elaborate proposals. The clearest case I heard was from casinos expert Prof. William Eadington at a recent Rappaport forum.

While Grossman did not promise that level of smart planning, he did agree with the concepts. Listen in as he describes that meter running. He figures we have one chance to do this right. He wants the commonwealth, in the form of him, the AG, Governor and commission, to apply principles like those he used in his successful business. He does not want anyone rushing and expects high quality instead of speed of implementation.

Likewise, he spoke of trying to capture the revenue that goes to out-of-state casinos and would not promise an effort to attract out-of-state and out-of-U.S. tourists. However, he likes the ideas behind the successful implementations in foreign casinos. Those typically built such attractive tourist resorts that they are true destinations, ones where the wealthy happily bring their families for a week or more, shopping, dining,clubbing, sightseeing, and sure, gambling too. He said that is possible here as well.

He promised updates as the process continues. We intend to take him up on that.

This also appears at BlueMassGroup.


icon for podpress  Steve Grossman [20:32m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Treasurer Talks Casinos

grossman.pngSteve Grossman with join us for a session on casinos, following the recent enabling legislation. We’ll try to maximize with focus — like what is the real aim of expanded gambling, whether fully fleshed out proposals or just down and dirty bidding will determine locations and features, and can we ensure as some cities and countries have that the overseeing commission will be ethical?

If you can join us live, click here, Monday, 12/19 at 3:30 PM Eastern. Afterward, the show will be at that URL, here at Left Ahead and on iTunes.


Political Thanks Podcast

If snide lefties bother you, this is not your podcast. Ryan and Mike chatted up almost entirely political folk, events and trends they are thankful for this season and year.

We didn’t like casinos and slots passing into law. On the other hand or hands, we’re still delighted with the GOP Presidential band of buffoons. We talked up the good competition on the Dem side for U.S. Senate, the Occupy movement and much more. We had a good time.

icon for podpress  Political Thanks Due [29:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


MA Casino Bill Podcast

No James Bond or other high-roller types here. We touched on the current 3 casino/1 slot parlor bill in debate on Beacon Hill. It seems certain to pass this time.

Fortuitousness (no gambling pun intended), Mike went to a Suffolk Law Rappaport Center program yesterday on the broader subject. The speaker was William Eadington, University of Nevada at Reno economics professor and director of its Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming.

Mike and Ryan are not casino supporters and would like one of the slim hopes that this bill fails to manifest. Ryan describes some of the outcomes, including lawsuits and ballot initiatives. Even if the bill becomes law this fall, casinos would be several years away.

Listen too as Mike relays some Eadington experiences and judgments, including:

  • If you’re going for casinos, the commission setting up and regulating it needs to be totally transparent and populated with those of absolute integrity (not something we’re famous for here)
  • The process should take four to six year, and ideally will start with proof of concept plans from bidders, before any sites or operators are chosen
  • The jurisdiction needs to be very clear about what it expects from casinos, prioritizing its goals

Eadington was plain that expecting financial miracles from casinos is totally unrealistic. However, mandating investment in resort casino(s) to create vacation areas to elevate the site and bring in tourists is possible.

Listen in as we begrudgingly discuss the likely and possible.

icon for podpress  MA Hearts Casinos [31:35m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


MA on Casino Abyss Brink

It’s highly likely that MA will take the first giant step to casinos. We’ll do an update show today. We’ll talk economic realities, as well as fantasies.

Join us live here at 2:30 PM Eastern today, Tuesday, September 27th.

You can always hear it later at that URL, here at Left Ahead, or on iTunes.


MA Casinos, Again, Podcast

Early-as-possible warning on the casino front… Ryan and Mike went on about the latest, behind-closed-doors, lobbyist snuggling casinos/slot parlor effort on Beacon Hill.

The governor and top dog from each house will come out after Labor Day presenting a combined front. It will run something like three destination casinos, one slot parlor, and a lot less possible money than ever mentioned. Ryan detailed the sneaky add-ins, like 9% to go to horse racing interests.

The fantasies that casinos would solve MA’s money problems are belied by experience of states with gambling, far and close, as well as the economic studies of the industry. Listen in as we discuss the obvious and other drawbacks.

We’re urging people to pay attention come next month. So far, the effort has been to slide this proposal through without education to avoid objection. As Ricky Ricardo would have said, “You go a lot of splanin’ to do.”

icon for podpress  MA Casinos, Again [29:42m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Treasurer Candidate Polito Podcast

No candidates or podcasters were hurt in the broadcasting of today’s show. GOP nominee for treasurer of the commonwealth and receiver general Karyn Polito joined us to say why she was interested in and qualified for the office as well as what she would do.

Time note:  She enters the show at 15:25. You are welcome to hear the three of us talk about yesterday’s primaries first, but catch her then.

Polito said she looked forward to debates for the office…as soon as the Dems have their convention and produce one or two candidates. If there’s a primary, that would be she with Steve Grossman and Steve Murphy.

Particularly with Grossman, thinks that “there’s a very clear choice.” He defines his vision for the office as that of an activist treasurer. She sticks with fiscal conservative and said that her role in the office would be to “get the highest rate of return with the least risk” for the pension funds she would control. “There is a very clear choice” between candidates, she added. She doesn’t think the treasurer has the authority to take political stances, such as she has done in the past decade as a state representative.

She did describe the political angle to the office. While she notes that she would come in as an independent treasurer, the office has become a “political catchall.” That is with the lottery, alcohol control board and numerous other money-related functions, the treasurer has inherited a variety of seemingly mismatched duties and authority.

A symbolic way Polito intends to illustrate independence would be to refuse a pension. She hopes that sets the tone for newly elected officials. She believes civil servants should receive pensions but not so pure politicians. She wants to set an example.

For her primary role as overseer of the $44 billion in pension funds, she would like to use those as models for efficiency as well. She thinks the many millions we pay annually in management fees are likely unnecessary. She favors passive index funds to simultaneously get good returns in safe investments with no fees.

icon for podpress  Karyn Polito [56:12m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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