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Mass. Gambling Madness
by Christine Whitmarsh
Mar 04, 2012 | 788 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There was an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Mr. Burns, the original caricature of the evil One Percent, opened a mega-casino in the mythical town of Springfield, USA. Moral armageddon instantly ensued and five minutes later, innocent, blue-haired, cookie-baking Simpson family matriarch Marge developed a raging gambling addiction. Mr. Burns was quickly forced to demolish his casino, old school Vegas style.

The town of Springfield was clearly not fit for the wild world of gambling and all its social implications. In real life, there is a small town in Massachusetts not far from a real Springfield, where Las Vegas is courting blue-haired, old-fashioned cookie bakers. Mr. Burns, also known as Steve Wynn, and his fellow business magnates at the MGM and Caesars just received legislative permission to build three casinos in the Bay State. But there is no Las Vegas strip in Massachusetts to serve as the obvious location. My childhood home state is better known for the Red Sox, the Patriots and their loud-mouthed fans (present company included) than for $200 casino show tickets featuring fancy, flying French acrobats dancing in their underwear to bizarre music.

So the big Vegas companies must do some creative location scouting up and down the Massachusetts Turnpike. There’s Foxboro where the Patriots play and owner Robert Kraft has built a sports-themed mecca devoted to the team’s loyal fans largely in the middle of nowhere (if memory serves). This would seem like an obvious choice for a casino, yet the town’s residents are said to be mobilizing against the cause. Then there is Brimfield, your typical, historic little New England town where buildings seem like they were constructed by highly paid Hollywood set designers trying to imitate the look and feel of a typical historic little New England town.

Unwilling to pass on the opportunity to create a casino with a theme, the Vegas titans vow to make the Massachusetts casinos blend in with their surroundings, promising to decorate the gambling parlors with stone walls, ancient-looking wood fixtures and tressel-like designs. The Vegas versions of Mr. Burns even have generously offered to add a new exit ramp off the Mass Pike, theoretically so the drunken, immoral, degenerate gamblers are contained in a completely different traffic pattern with no risk of contaminating the church bake sale traffic pattern.

Determined to win over the state, the Las Vegas casino companies have donned their finest tuxedos and are flashing their freshly whitened smiles in hopes of dazzling the frosty-tempered, frost-brewed sports fans of the East. After all, wouldn’t a few full-service sports books add a whole new layer of excitement and optimism to the often-cynical existence of the Boston sports fan? Then, they could fill out their parlay card, place their bets, grab a Sam Adams beer in one of those special, scientifically designed glasses with the narrow tops and head next door to the game, hoping that the Patriots not only beat the New York Giants, but also cover the spread.

Of course, it all comes down to the money. The Vegas One Percent wants more of it and the greedy Massachusetts powers that be are promising that some of the casino chips will miraculously trickle down into the state budget. If that’s the case, let’s build casinos on every street corner in America and pay off the national debt by Memorial Day. Unfortunately, it never seems to work that way, especially in my home state of “Tax-a-chusetts” where Kennedy blood still pumps strong through the aging turnpike and highway arteries and some of the most egregious state taxes in the country are still not enough to keep the state’s budget out of the red.

If old Joe Kennedy, one-time bootlegger and proprietor of money and political power, were alive today, he would likely be locked arm in arm in a show of solidarity with Mr. Wynn and friends, flashing his own yellow decaying smile at the cameras. He would reassure every blue-haired basket case that the casinos represent a new era of glamour and prosperity for the state. And then, as soon as the cameras were turned off, he would cut a back room deal to ensure that when the gambling chips start raining down over Massachusetts, most of them fall into Kennedy and other elite pockets.

Mr. Burns might have lost his Springfield casino, but with a little Vegas finesse and persuasion by Massachusetts’ finest political families, New Englanders will no longer have to drive all the way to southern Connecticut to gamble on the tribal land of the Foxwoods Casino. After all, it’s every gambler’s personal prerogative as to where they would prefer to invest their money.

Christine Whitmarsh is the owner of local writing firm Christine, Ink. She can be reached at christine@christine-ink.com.
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Mass. Gambling Madness by Christine Whitmarsh


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