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As a Citizen of Massachusetts, Why Should You Join USS-Mass in Opposing Slot Machines?

1.) Expanded gambling has not solved budget problems in any states with slots, racinos or casinos

Gambling is not a recession-proof industry, revenues have declined and capital projects aborted nationally and internationally. Casinos have laid-off hundreds of workers. States with large slot/racino/casino markets like Nevada, New Jersey, California and Connecticut have greater fiscal problems than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Regional market saturation and casino-owner pressure to reduce tax rates would make revenue less than advocates' inflated estimates. Twin Rivers slot parlor in Rhode Island is a recent example of failed revenue promises and projections. NH Department of Revenue Commissioner Phil Blastos testified to the Gaming Options Study Committee (10/11/2005), casino revenues would "probably ... start high and go down. That's the experience in most other states."

2.) Expanded gambling will destroy families and damage our state's enviable quality of life

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that casinos double gambling addiction within a 50 mile radius. Increased addiction-related social and economic costs include divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, child death by abuse, rape, assault, suicide, drug abuse, psychiatric and personality disorders, physical illness, bankruptcy, work absenteeism and lost productivity, embezzlement, insurance fraud, arson, and increased police, civil justice, social services costs. Prevalence of these problems among pathological (addicted) gamblers compared to non-gamblers increases by up to several times: past year unemployment benefits by 3.3x, past-year welfare by 2.4x, bankruptcy filing by 4.6x, arrests by 7.2x, divorce by 2.9x, suicide by 5-10x, long-term illness by 2.0x, depression by 4.2x. These are among the reasons that faith communities are nearly unanimous in opposing casinos. The average taxpayer opposes increased taxes or reduced local aid to fund mitigation for the negative impacts from gambling.

3.) Gambling aggravates state and local budget pressures

Casino advocates never account for the not-so-hidden costs of gambling-addiction: white collar and violent crime, civil justice, reduced workplace productivity, bankruptcy, embezzlement, suicide, illness, and increased social welfare costs. These costs are 2 to 3 times the gambling revenue and will drive up mandatory spending in Corrections, DHHS, and other state agencies. Local law enforcement, highway, and school budgets usually rise after casino openings.

4.) Expanded gambling will become a loser for our state's economy

Gambling social and economic costs. The best published study to date estimates total national costs of gambling addiction at over $54 billion annually, half the societal cost of drug abuse. As measured by these social and economic burdens, gambling taxes are the most costly form of revenue available to lawmakers. This is why our leading anti-tax organizations oppose casinos.

5.) Expanded gambling will drain business profits

Because most casino patrons would live nearby, casinos would drain consumer spending away from existing businesses, such as restaurants, hospitality, entertainment and retailers.

6.) Expanded gambling will damage tourism

Patrons do not leave casinos to visit nearby visitor amenities. Casinos maximize profit using subsidized rooms, meals and alcohol to hold patrons on site until they have lost as much money as possible. Says Ledyard, Connecticut's Mayor, "There has been no economic development spin-off from the [Foxwoods] casino ... Gamblers have one thing in mind: get to the casino, win or lose their money, get in their cars, and go home." This is why members of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association overwhelmingly oppose casinos.

7.) Expanded gambling will create a regressive tax burden

Problem and pathological gambling prevalence is ten times higher in low as in high income communities. Gambling addiction is twice as high and effective casino tax rates are at least 2-4 times higher among lower income groups (sources).

8.) Expanded gambling will harm children

There is no means to confine the impact of legalized gambling to adults. A Rutgers University study found that teens are twice as likely to be heavy gamblers if their parents gamble. Teens are one-third more likely become pathological level 3 gamblers if their parents gamble.

A University of Delaware study found that almost one-third of 8th and 11th graders in that casino state had gambled in the past year. Those Delaware teens gambling over the past month were two to three times more likely than non-gambling peers to smoke, binge drink, steal, or use illegal drugs. Student test scores drop. High school drop out rates increase. Slots are, literally, anti-education. The injury to children alone makes video slot casinos indefensible. Gambling addiction and, thereby, nearby casinos are linked to substantial increases in divorce, family violence, child physical abuse, childhood attempted suicide, and childhood depression. At least 10 percent of children of gambling addicts suffer physical abuse at the hands of the addict. These are among the reasons that the National Association of Social Workers-MA and the Massachusetts Family Institute oppose slots/racinos/casinos.

9.) Expanded gambling will increase serious crimes by 8 to 10 percent within four years

Here is the best peer-reviewed study using nationwide data showing the unambiguous link between casinos and increases in aggravated assault, rape, robbery, larceny, burglary and auto theft. A federal Department of Justice study found that problem and pathological gamblers are 3-5 times as likely to be arrested. An independent study performed for New York State confirms the serious gambling-crime link. Here are some real-life examples of gambling-related crimes.

10.) Expanded gambling will create gambling addicts in order to tax them

Gambling promoters say that casino taxes are voluntary. The best research on the subject shows that about 50 percent of casino revenue comes from problem and pathological gamblers who cannot stop themselves. Because they require no skill and are played rapidly, repetitively and in isolation, video slot machines are the most addictive form of gambling yet invented and provide 70-80 percent of the gross profits at most casinos. Gambling addiction onset is over 3 times faster with slot machines compared with table games. About half of vulnerability to gambling addiction is inherited. This news story explains the science in lay terms about why slot machines are so addictive. Rather than a failure of self-will, gambling addiction is a legislative failure to balance costs and benefits. Locating casinos near where people live turns susceptible individuals into addicted gamblers.

11.) Expanded gambling will increase political corruption

If casinos were legalized, gambling interests would soon dominate the legislature, as in most other casino states. A state-sanctioned gambling monopoly would give hundreds of millions of dollars to a handful of companies which would be dependent upon the legislature for tax rates, allowed number and location of machines and potential competitors. As in most other states, the gambling industry would quickly become the state's most powerful special interest. The NH state auditor found that the Pari-Mutuel Commission, which regulates most gambling, is stained by a multi-year pattern of self-dealing, evasion of legislative budget authority and sloppy recordkeeping (audit summary, full report).

12.) Gambling industry psychologists design slots to addict gamblers

This new study shows that most electronic slot machines worldwide use 1/20th second, mid-play flashes of winning combinations, virtually-mapped and unbalanced reels to generate frequent near-misses, tricking gamblers into thinking that win odds are far higher than reality. These techniques and use of sound, lights and play speed are carefully manipulated to maximize addiction and revenue. Many slot machines stop mid-play for 1/20th of a second on a win, too short for conscious perception, long enough to subliminally trick the customers into thinking they are winners. Here is a video tutorial showing how slot machines use over-weighted of near misses to trick gamblers into thinking their odds are better than they are. Here is a report on a Canadian study showing that slots are designed to deceive players into thinking they are winning 2 to 5 times more than in reality.

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