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Keller @ Large: Gaming Commission's Bad Decision Hurts Brockton

BOSTON (CBS) - We legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts five years ago to bring jobs and investment to areas of the state that badly needed them.

So far, not so good.

Just the one slots parlor in Plainville is open, producing revenues for the state that are well short of expectations. And Thursday, I watched the live stream of the Gaming Commission with amazement as they voted to reject a Brockton casino plan that would have infused $700 million in private investment into a starving local economy that's lost an appalling 38-percent of its manufacturing jobs in the last three years.

Commission Chairman Steve Crosby had said the proposal from a well-established casino operator lacked the "wow factor."

Commissioner Gayle Cameron made a big deal of the fact that the average salary in Brockton would be $42,400 a year, about ten grand less than comparable jobs at the Springfield casino.

It was left to Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald, the newest member of what's proven to be an earnest but hapless bureaucracy, to note that "bells and whistles" were not a mandate in the law, and that $42,000 salaries plus benefits would be a lifesaver for a city where 40-percent of children are disadvantaged, where local officials have literally begged the commission to approve the license.

Wondered MacDonald: Are we really prepared to say "Brockton, we're sorry, you can't have it?"

They voted 4-to-1 to deny the license. Leaving Brocktonians and the rest of us to wonder of these well-meaning people: what on earth do they think they're doing?

Listen to Jon's commentary:

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