Saturday, 2:15 PM
Study highlights economic impact of casino proposal
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
A state-commissioned study released this afternoon bolsters several of Governor Deval Patrick’s arguments that building three resort casinos in Massachusetts would improve the economy and provide thousands of jobs.
But the 301-page report -- which includes fresh projections on the impact that casinos would have on jobs, revenue, and the state lottery -- also provides lower estimates than administration officials touted earlier this year as they unsuccessfully tried to persuade House lawmakers to support their plan.
The report, prepared by New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming, concludes that several of Patrick’s estimates were inflated:
-- While Patrick argued that 20,000 jobs would be created at the casinos, the latest study puts that estimate at 13,131 jobs
-- Patrick said there would be 30,000 construction jobs, while the study says 9,000 jobs
-- Patrick estimated $2 billion in gross gaming revenues, while the study estimates $1.23 billion to $1.78 billion.
One reason for the different estimates is that Patrick projected that each casino would build 5,000 slot machines, while Spectrum Gaming estimated each casino would build 3,000.
The study comes a bit late in the debate, to be sure, but it also forecasts what is likely to happen in January at the start of a new legislative session. Patrick has not said whether he will refile new casino legislation, but outside observers expect the casino debate to return in some form as the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe pursues a casino.
The administration hired Spectrum Gaming in February, hoping that the firm’s study would help gain passage of Patrick’s proposal to license three resort-style casinos. With a lack of independent statistics, Patrick's numbers came under attack as being excessively optimistic.
His plan was soundly defeated in the House in March, but the administration decided to forge ahead with the $189,000 study.
The study says that Massachusetts residents have been spending about $1.1 billion annually on gaming in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Massachusetts could recapture about $500 million to $700 million of that if the state were to legalize casino gambling.
The study also concludes that state lottery sales would decline in the short term, but “long-term, our view is that the Lottery will not be significantly affected by the introduction of casinos in Massachusetts.”
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