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3 casino prospects brighten in Massachusetts

Feb 3, 2009 5:08 PM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | The news was like hitting a daily double for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

First, his political nemesis, House Speaker Sal DiMasi, a strong opponent to Patrick’s hopes of licensing three casinos in the commonwealth, resigned his post.

Then, out of the blue, the Labor Resource Center of the University of Massachusetts, delivered a two-year study that said "casinos are a terrific source of good-paying, benefit-rich, blue-collar jobs."

Patrick couldn’t have written a better scenario himself.

During a period when Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, has been hard-hit by a slumping economy, the prospects of new jobs will be welcomed, indeed.

The study – "Gaming in Massachusetts: Can Casinos Bring Good Jobs to the Commonwealth?" – found that casinos provide workers without higher education jobs that offer better pay and more benefits.

For 10 years, the study’s participants have reviewed jobs and working conditions in Nevada, Louisiana, New Jersey, Connecticut and New York where legalized gambling is allowed.

A study spokesperson explained that "for legions of Americans whose formal education ended in high school, these are good jobs. They allow workers to have good, solid middle-class lifestyles, to own homes and to send their kids to college."

Also, the privately-funded study found that Gov. Patrick’s proposal to license three casinos "was unique" in its efforts to address a number of social problems such as wages, benefits, training, mentoring, child care and worker protection.

Patrick’s casino plans were killed by DiMasi and his supporters last year. However, DiMasi’s replacement as house speaker, Robert DeLeo, has indicated that he would consider plans to legalize gambling. In fact, DeLeo has shown a preference for installing slot machines at the state’s four racetracks, two of which are greyhound racing centers that will be banned next year by vote of the state’s electorate.

Certainly, a study of this magnitude, from the Labor Resource Center, will carry weight with some politicians, especially those whose districts have been suffering through the downturn.

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