There are deep and fundamental problems with the Rush Street Gaming proposal for Worcester.
First, this is not a casino. It's a slot parlor. That's an important difference. Very few will drive 25 miles, let alone 50, to get to a slot parlor. It's main market will be the people who now gather in neighborhood bars and play Keno, in Worcester proper and the immediate suburbs. (Bye, bye neighborhood bars!)
Modern electronic slot machines are scientifically designed to be addictive, to keep people rooted to their seat and excited because they seem to be winning. And they can be directly connected to people's bank accounts so they play til the accounts are drained. Gambling addiction is very real and hugely destructive. Would we support a $1/4 billion glorified opium den in downtown Worcester?
Second, this developer has a history of being dishonest, predatory and a bad employer. That was on display last night as they presented all the advantages of this "casino", not a slot parlor, comparing it to other casinos. We can expect a slick, deceptive and lavishly-funded campaign to sell it to Worcester voters if it reaches the stage of a referendum. And whether it will reach that stage is what is being decided on now.
Third, it will change the character of Worcester in ways that even its supporters will come to deplore. And unless the casino goes belly up it will be almost impossible to get rid of.
Fourth, when we talk about not missing this huge opportunity to bring this money to Worcester, consider that the only inflow will be during the construction phase. Once it's up and running it will be a place where Worcester residents go to spend their paychecks on a few hours of getting high, and - unlike the Lottery - most of that money goes straight to a multi-billion dollar corporation in Chicago!
It will be like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking the life-blood out of the Worcester economy, leaving behind failed businesses and broken lives.
We need to walk away from this lemon now!