With several states across the union struggling to balance their budgets, revenue is the name of the game. Many states are in desperate turmoil to come up with ideas on how to bring revenue and not default. Under their constitutions, states must balance their budgets. One of the answers to this problem is casinos.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a bill was set forth to bring several new casinos to the Bay State. According to Massachusetts casinos.org there are seven proposed casinos in Massachusetts. While many believe that casinos are a great way to bring revenue to the state (as well as creating thousands of new jobs) there are those who strongly oppose it. According to mass.gov the casinos "...will advance job creation and economic development in the commonwealth by creating the potential for thousands of jobs in the construction, tourism, hospitality, leisure and convention sectors." The web site goes on to comment that Massachusetts will receive roughly 25% of gross gambling revenues from each casino.
In 2011 when Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill Senate President Therese Murray stated "This legislation alone is not going to be the solution to our ongoing economic recovery, but it will help put unemployed residents back to work in good jobs with good benefits." However, casinos are notorious for bringing nefarious and seedy activity to the communities upon which they intrude. The bill also seems to exploit those who have legitimate gambling addictions which can ruin lives and families. House Speaker Robert DeLeo commented on the legislation stating, "Most important, this bill will create jobs, address the 'Blue Collar Depression' and provide much needed local aide." While this may be true, what will it cost some citizens?
Indeed revenue is much needed and desired by many states but at what expense? While the casinos will bring jobs, they may also develop a malicious reputation. Another way states can build revenue is to follow suit with Colorado and Washington and legalize marijuana. Now while this issue is quite controversial, there is a bit of logic behind it. The state governments can tax marijuana much like they do with alcohol. Currently each state regulates the sale and taxing of alcohol. By taxing the controversial "drug," the states could make millions of dollars in revenue.
In Colorado and Washington, if a private citizen wishes to purchase marijuana, they can go to any one of a number of dispensaries and purchase it legally. The government is now able to regulate the level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of cannabis or marijuana) in the marijuana they legally sell. THC levels in marijuana that is dealt on the street is much more potent than that which is regulated by the state governments. This helps rid the state of unwanted drug cartel trafficking as well as freeing up law enforcement to focus on larger scale operations. In an interview with ABC News, President Obama stated the [federal] government has "bigger fish to fry," in relation to prosecuting those in Colorado and Washington for consuming marijuana as it is still on the list of the federal government's Controlled Substances Act. President Obama did note that he is opposed to legalization yet he acknowledged that the tides are turning and voters have voiced their opinion on the subject. Conversely, some are opposed to marijuana legalization because it is thought to be a "gateway" to more serious drug use.
There is no easy way to remedy our struggling economy. Each state is attempting to come up with legislation to bring relief to their citizens. While I believe that casinos are the wrong way to bring jobs and revenue to states, many oppose marijuana legalization. However I believe it is more just and ethical to "exploit" someone who uses a substance recreationally which studies have determined is no more harmful than alcohol than "exploit" those with legitimate gambling problems whose lives could fall apart because of it. This is why we live in a democracy and we as Americans are able to vote on these issues.