If the old maxim holds true that political leaders seldom like to say 'no' to an idea unless there is a preponderance of evidence -- and voters -- against it, then opponents of legalized gambling should take heart in developments on the East Coast of the US.
Start with New York. Gov. Hugh Carey has shifted from past positions and unequivocally declared his opposition to casino gambling for the Empire State. After visiting Atlantic City for the recent governors' conference, Mr. Carey said that he does not want "that kind of casino gambling in New York State -- or any kind."
The governor's tough stance should provide powerful new ammunition to opponents of casino gambling in other states where efforts have been intense to build new casinos. In Massachusetts there has been a persistent (but to date unsuccessful) campaign to win state and voter approval for two casinos.
Without at this point conjecturing as to what the governor saw in Atlantic City to account for his shift it might be helpful to note once again what has been happening on the gambling from in other East Coast states.
Rhode Island has enacted a law preventing new gaming operations unless there are statewide and community referendums. Connecticut extended a ban on new legalized gambling through June 1983. New Hampshire officials rejected a proposal for a new dog racing track in that state. And in New York State attorney general Robert Abrahams in May of this year reversed his earlier stand and came out against legalized casino gambling.
"Naysaying" is a game that political leaders seldom like to engange in. So when a political leader of the stature of Governor Carey takes a stand against casino gambling voters should take proper notice. New casino gambling -- whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere -- is an idea whose time has definitely not, and should never, come.