Hooray for Gambling?

1206631853You may have heard this already, but Massachusetts is hurting for money. Now that we won’t have casinos anytime soon, the Legislature is left to scramble for ways to balance the budget because if it doesn’t, cities and towns won’t get the aid they need to keep services running.

Cities and towns will be delighted to hear that the Massachusetts State Lottery is on its way to a record-setting year, since much of their aid comes from revenues. But it may spell more trouble than relief.

While Boston.com paints a rosy picture of what lottery revenue means to the state, the Herald’s Scott Van Voorhis reports that $177 million of Massachusetts residents’ money went to a dog track in Rhode Island. That’s $32 million more than last year.

But it doesn’t quite make sense. Housing prices are falling, the foreclosure crisis is still imperiling local homeowners, and we’re all supposed to be channeling our inner Yankee. So why are people spending so much on a gamble?

“I don’t think it is as much as an escape as much as some people feel this is a way to get income when they don’t have other ways,” [executive director of the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling Kathleen Scanlon] said.