SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 19, 2013

Salem State placing bet on gaming research

SALEM — Let’s start with a multiple-choice question: What person and organization don’t go together?

1. Lance Armstrong and the Drug Free America Foundation.

2. Sarah Palin and Occupy Wall Street.

3. “Jimmy the Greek” and Salem State University.

Although the first two aren’t matches, Salem State and a famous Las Vegas oddsmaker do have something in common. The local university not only offers courses on the casino industry, it is hoping to do business with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The Center for Economic Development and Sustainability at Salem State has submitted a bid to do a research project for the new state commission, which has been given the task of approving three resort casinos in Massachusetts.

In fact, the executive director of the Salem State center was in Las Vegas this winter to interview faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which has a long history with the casino industry, and to talk with executives at the Caesars and Bellagio resorts.

“From a purely academic standpoint, I’m interested in what will be the impacts,” said Lorri Krebs, an associate professor of geography at Salem State and head of the faculty research center.

The state Gaming Commission is also interested in the subject, which is why it put out a request for proposals to research the economic and social impacts that casino gambling could have in Massachusetts.

In addition to Krebs, the Salem State proposal was written by a half-dozen faculty members from different disciplines at the university.

The team includes Jennifer Robinson, an assistant professor of criminal justice; Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, an associate professor of interdisciplinary studies; William Hamilton and Keith Ratner from the geography department; Duncan LaBay, associate dean of the business school; and Mindy Jeon, an assistant professor in business.

They propose examining economic development opportunities, jobs, crime, transportation, problem gambling and a variety of community impacts.

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