Reasons we believe a raciNO is not in the best interest of Plainville and its surrounding communities:
- Plainridge is a money loser: According to The Boston Globe, Plainridge was initially profitable but has become a money loser over the past five years, and needs the extra revenue that slot machines would generate to keep the facility afloat. Plainridge’s investors, namely a Las Vegas slot machine tycoon who owns 31% of the track, have pumped at least $32 million into the track over the past decade - and that may soon hit $35 million. Since then, each year has brought additional losses, with Plainridge’s backers subsidizing the money-losing operation as interest steadily dropped in live horse racing. How can we expect Plainridge to be successful with a highly complex slot operation if they cannot even make money with their current business venture? What has Plainridge's management been doing since the track opened - “We have been here for 14 years watching paint dry. This is getting exciting. This is light speed.” - says Gary Piontkowski, Plainridge Racecourse's President.
- Host Community Agreement: Plainville does not have the resources to adequately negotiate a complex Host Community Agreement. The agreement is critical to ensure Plainville is compensated for all the current and future mitigation and to extract maximum value for Plainville for the deal. Plainville Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes says “To be candid, we need assistance with this process. I and others could muddle through it, but why do so? There are companies that have done this in other locales. I am not going to reinvent the wheel.’’ We are concerned that the town will not be adequately compensated as the Host Community and leave significant value on the table, so we have submitted a petition for a town meeting vote "To see if the town will vote to require the board of selectmen to obtain an independent cost-benefit analysis about the impact of a slot machine parlor on the residents of Plainville. This analysis would be obtained prior to and-or concurrent with negotiations for a host community agreement for a Class 2 gaming license in Plainville, and made public prior to any town-wide referendum on any host community agreement."
- Job quality: These are low paying jobs with the median annual wage for a slot worker is only $25,1001 - and a racino requires very few employees to operate. This salary is just above the poverty level and is significantly below the income per capita is $36,434, which includes all adults and children. The median household income is $76,188. These are not the type of jobs Plainville needs to boost our local economy.
- Economic benefits: Government sponsored gambling is a failed public policy. Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Twin River and Newport Grand have had their own problems over the past few years, including the need for Twin River to file for bankruptcy protection. The RI Governor and state legislature included this in their FY2011 and FY2010 Supplemental Budget as Enacted: The budget “Foregoes revenues of $3.7 million for Twin River and $1.0 million for Newport Grand to ensure the Twin River facility successfully emerges from bankruptcy." The government is bailing out the gambling establishments who were supposed to provide the miraculous revenue for the state and region. Mohegan Sun is $1.6 billion in debt and their stock is rated at a junk-bond status. Steve Wynn, a casino owner once said, “Get it straight...there is no reason on earth for any of you to expect for more than one second that just because there are people here [at casinos], they’re going to run into your store, or restaurant, or bar.” Donald Trump, in an interview with the Miami Herald, said “People will spend a tremendous amount of money in casinos, money that they would normally spend on buying a refrigerator or a new car. Local businesses will suffer because they lose customer dollars to the casinos.”
- Competition: There is currently slot gambling just 18 miles from Plainridge at Twin River which has 4,700 slot machines. In addition, Steve Wynn is proposing a billion dollar casino approximately 5 miles north of Plainridge across from Patriots Place. If that's not enough competition, there is another proposal for a casino 22 miles away in Taunton with 3,000 slot machines. Why would a local resident want to visit the local 1,250 slot machine "slot barn" when they could play in the luxury of a billion dollar Wynn "Destination Resort" or another "First Class Destination Resort" in Taunton? With so many local venues competing for the same gambling dollars, revenue projections could be overly optimistic.
- Crime: Crime, including embezzlement, robbery, DUIs, aggravated assaults and domestic violence rates, increases 8-10% right after casino is built and continues to increase after that. Ledyard, CT (home to Foxwoods), has seen a 30-fold increase in calls to 911 since casinos were introduced. CT State Police have seen a dramatic increase in DUI arrests, followed by a leveling off of DUI arrests. The leveling off was followed by an increase in drunken driving DEATHS. The state police determined that DUI occurrences had continued to rise but they did not have enough police resources to CATCH them.
- Addiction: Slot machines are highly addictive, more than any other form of gambling.
- Harness racing synergies: "This idea that we can revive harness racing by adding slot machines is really a lie--there's no evidence that that would work."2
- Traffic: The intersection of Route 1 closest to Plainridge is one of the most dangerous intersections in the state. In addition, Plainridge is proposing the addition of 4 new traffic lights which will further contribute to the traffic and congestion in the local area.
- Future demographics: The aging demographics of the typical slot player means longer term the number of gamblers will decrease in the near future. According to a recent University of Massachusetts study, 40% of the Massachusetts visitors to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun were 50 years or older. This will further pressure racino revenues as their target demographic decreases in numbers. More likely that future projections based on today's game play will be false (past performance is not guarantee of future performance).
- Casino: There's a small leap from a racino to a casino and it is a familiar strategy to start as a slot parlor as a step to a casino as Twin River is proposing.
Please let us know if you have any additions, corrections or amplifications to the information presented above.
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