Thursday, 4:30 PM
Coakley: Slots, casinos not worth gamble
By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff
The expansion of gambling in the Commonwealth would bring with it a risk of organized crime, creating a potentially expensive state law enforcement obligation that could eat into any new state revenue from slot machines and casinos, Attorney General Martha Coakley has warned.
The new attorney general, speaking to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said she does not have a position on gambling, but she cautioned state officials to tread carefully as they consider a "very seductive" way to bring in new revenue.
"It’s a cash business ... it’s going to be subject to infiltration by -- and I use the term ‘organized crime’ very loosely -- some sort of money laundering, organized crime costs," she said. "I understand the attractiveness of it, but be very careful, I think, before we do it."
With her comments, Coakley injected concern about crime into a debate that has recently focused on whether the promise of jobs and revenue is worth the potential human costs, such as gambling addiction.
Coakley said she has not discussed the subject with Governor Deval Patrick, who said Monday that he plans to carefully consider the expansion of gambling, perhaps with the help of a study group. The attorney general said Tuesday that she and her staff plan to discuss the issue with Patrick soon.
"I have no moral compunction against it," she told reporters. "I just think that people always see it as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And I’m here to say, as someone who’s been a prosecutor ... the pot doesn’t have as much gold in it as people think."
State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, a Democrat from Revere who has filed legislation that would put state-owned slot machines at the state’s four racetracks, called Coakley’s "blanket statement" about organized unfounded.
"There are strict regulations in my bill," she said. "The machines are owned and operated by the state, and there’s even an audit system. I respect the attorney general very much, but I think if we pass something like my bill, that’s highly unlikely to happen."
Coakley also said Tuesday that she wants to take on controversial stem cell regulations issued by the Romney administration last year.
"Stem cell research and other biotechnical initiatives should be encouraged and not discouraged by regulations promulgated that contradict the spirit of recent, progressive legislation," Coakley said.