Poll questions topic of debate
Amid the ongoing media frenzy around the Massachusetts gubernatorial election today, there are also four referendum questions that will be decided when the ballots close at 8 p.m.
Last Wednesday night, the Waltham League of Women Voters invited the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society to the Waltham Community and Cultural Center to help frame one of those questions—Question 3, which will decide whether or not to repeal the 2011 state law that allows casinos to operate in Massachusetts.
Waltham League of Women Voters President Shelley Drowns was quoted in a WickedLocal Waltham article last week as saying that an important part of her organization’s mission is to inform the public about current issues.
“It’s great to have this renowned team provide viewpoints for and against Question 3, an important statewide issue. For some audience members and voters, this debate may be instrumental in their decision on how to vote,” she said.
Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy moderated a debate between two teams of two students each who argued in a structured format about the merits of a “yes” and “no” vote and the original law.
The main argument of the first team, advocating for a no-vote—which would keep the law as it stands currently—was that casinos in Massachusetts would create jobs and boost the economy of the Commonwealth.
Amelia Berg ’17 cited a statistic provided by the Massachusetts American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations that casinos will create 10,000 long-term jobs and 6,000 short-term construction jobs.
The second team opened by making the argument that the casino industry in New England is in decline and that with the market already saturated, new casinos in Massachusetts will not be profitable.
Brad Burns ’15 and his teammate Sarah Margulies ’15 pointed out that Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, casinos and resorts in Connecticut, are reporting 10 percent less profit this year than at this time last year.
“Throughout the country, you see huge problems with casinos,” Burns said.
“Most recently, in Rhode Island, in 2010, Twin River Casino declared bankruptcy and had to be bailed out by the state because they simply weren’t making enough money,” Burns added
In response, Berg’s teammate David Altman ’15 countered that there is no organization more selfish—or geared toward profit—than a casino.
“They’ve done extensive economic investigations for their own benefit as to whether or not they think the market exists,” he said. “They have zero incentive to invest hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars if they don’t think they can make a long-term profit.”
And if the casinos are able to turn profit, he said, so too will Massachusetts.
Alongside the League of Women Voters, the Student Union sponsored the event, which drew an audience of 40—including Brandeis students and Waltham residents.