Your home is your biggest investment. And so, it's one of the first questions you ask when you learn that a casino has been proposed for a location near you: What's it going to do to my property value?
There are people who will insist that a casino is a desirable neighbor, but the fact remains, few people really want to live near one, including many of the same people who want to bring them to Massachusetts.
Perhaps they realize that, at the very least, a casino will lead to an increase crime and traffic congestion, drunken drivers, trash, tour buses and road noise - and that these things will be ultimately reflected in a reduction in property values.
Including Steve Crosby, chairman of the Mass Gaming Commission, who admitted that even he wouldn't want to live "too close" to a casino - citing property values as a reason.
Smart move. A 2013 study by economists at the National Association of Realtors at the request of the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley concluded that the impact of casinos was "unambiguously negative" on a housing market:
The study's economists also estimate that there will also be 125 additional home foreclosures each year, representing $5 million in lost home values.
The study calculated that:
A casino would sap 1.1 to 2.3 percent of home values in the host community. In Palmer, Springfield and West Springfield, where casino companies are vying for the lone Western Massachusetts license, that works out to $64 million to $128 million in lost home value.
But the negative impacts on property values are not limited to the host community. Ten years after the Foxwoods casino opened, the town of North Stonington, CT, which abuts Ledyard, the host community to Foxwoods reported that:
Residential homes on main road or alternate roads leading to casinos tend to decrease in value 10 percent. Making it harder to sell and reducing the tax basis for the area.
Source: Casino Impacts on North Stonington
Prepared by: North Stonington Board of Selectmen
December 18, 2001
In another 2001 report, the town of Preston CT, which also abuts Ledyard noted similar impacts on local property values:
The impact traffic increase has had on home values in Preston is dramatic. A recent revaluation of properties in Preston has shown home values for properties within a quarter mile of a state road are as much as (20 %) twenty percent lower than a similar home that is not close t the traffic of the casino. The financial impact for Preston homeowners is approximately $6,000,000.00.
These are real estate impacts that are directly associated with the presence of a casino in an abutting town - not even the host community - almost a decade after the casino was built. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, after casinos had been legal for almost a decade, crime seemed to account for loss of property value:
The cost of crime resulting from casinos, as reflected in unrealised assessed real estate valuation, appears to be on average $5.2m per square mile in 1986 (current prices) in the South Jersey area. For an average community in the area it would amount in 1986 to a total of approximately $105m.
"Many of people that live in those traveled routes, their home was their equity, their life savings - and it's been depleted or wiped out."
- Bob Congdon, First Selectman, Preston, CT
The Sun Chronicle
March 11, 2012
To the editor: I'm a Foxboro resident and owner of a real estate brokerage for the last 23 years. I'm against the casino in Foxboro for several reasons.
• A casino is controversial.
• Anything controversial will cause some home buyers to exclude Foxboro and surrounding towns. This potential reduction in buyers will negatively affect the price and resale of homes here.
• There will most likely be an increase in crime, drunk driving and other problems that don't necessarily come from other types of commercial developments such as a malls, restaurants, etc.
• The majority of jobs created by a casino are not high paying. In contrast, jobs created through skilled manufacturing, high tech, research, medical, education and finance would be more beneficial to Foxboro and area communities. Whether the casino is built in Foxboro or Boston, those same jobs the casino lobby is promoting will be available for applicants.
• A casino will change the demographics and feel of the town. The casino developer is setting aside funds to deal with the increased need in law enforcement the casino will bring. Many families moved to Foxboro because of the community feel. Any significant change in crime, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and, domestic violence, or any other demographics will change the feel and fabric of Foxboro and surrounding towns.
• Three casinos will be built in Massachusetts, all within a drive convenient to Foxboro residents who want to use it or work there; it doesn't need to be in Foxboro for this to happen.
• With objection from of town officials and residents in significant numbers, Steve Wynn and Robert Kraft have resorted to employment of people from outside of town to try to sell the proposal to residents. They are funding promotions trying to make the casino just about jobs. This argument falls short because Foxboro has relatively high employment. All the casino jobs will be available to qualified candidates no matter where the casino is built. The "Jobs for Foxboro" argument just doesn't hold water.
Bob Simone, Foxboro
Mass Gambling Commission Chairman Steve Crosby admits he doesn't want to live "too close" a casino...
... because of