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Plan to Repeal Casinos in Massachusetts Rejected

Nov 06, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
60% of voters in Massachusetts voted against repealing the state’s casino laws

60% of voters in Massachusetts voted against repealing the state’s casino laws

Voters in Massachusetts rejected a question repealing a 2011 law that will bring three regional resort casinos and a slots parlor to the state.

Over the past few months, all eyes were on Massachusetts as local voters prepared for a referendum to repeal local gambling laws, which brought casino games and slot parlors to the state back in 2011. Newspapers said the vote would be “historic”, as it could have opened the door for a series of similar reactions, in other states with legal gambling.

Opponents argued that three casinos and a slots parlor would create thousands of jobs, boost the local economy and increase tax revenue. On the other hand, supporters of the repeal doubted that gambling companies would deliver their promises, but were convinced that allowing casinos would lead to more crime, addiction and other social ills.

Now that the referendum is over, casino developers got the green light to continue their projects. A slots parlor is already being built in Plainville, while MGM Resorts has planned a casino in Springfield and Wynn Resorts will build one in Everett.

Reuters: Law clearing way for Massachusetts casinos survives repeal vote

In a referendum held this Tuesday, Massachusetts voters upheld the 2011 law which allowed legal casino gambling in the state by voting down a referendum which aimed to repeal those regulations.

The battle was fought between anti-gambling activists, who argued that casinos would cause harm by increasing the number of problem gamblers. Crimes rates would also go up, they added, and the bad would outweigh the benefits of having new job openings.

On the other hand, pro-casino activists pointed out that neighboring Connecticut was already home to several large casinos, where Massachusetts gamblers play. Seeing how they spend their money there anyway, opening casinos in the state would mean all profits stay in Massachusetts, where they eventually return to the local community.

The state’s gaming commission has already handed out two of the three available casino licenses. One went to MGM Resorts International for a gambling venue in Springfield, and the other one was won by Wynn Resorts for a casino just outside Boston. The regulating body will soon rule on a third license, giving permission for a casino in the Cape Cod beach resort area.

Penn National Gaming hold the fourth license, but this one is for a slot machines-only facility on the Rhode Island border.

Boston.com: Mass. Voters Reject Casino Repeal; Expanded Gambling Will Stand

Casinos should still be allowed in Massachusetts, voters decided this week. The result was called by The Associated Press shortly before 10:20 p.m., when the counted ballots showed a 59.5% to 40.5% lead in favor of gambling in the state.

MGM’s Springfield proposal and Wynn Resort’s Everett plans were approved earlier this year. The gambling commission held off on the third license due to the referendum. The two casino developers will now have to pay an $85 million licensing fee, officially receive their licenses, and start building the venues.

Penn National Gaming had already received its license for the slot parlor, and then began construction without even slowing down when news got out that the law could be repealed. The venue is scheduled to open in mid-2015.

Once the venues open, state authorities get 49% of gambling revenues from the slots parlor and 25% of whatever profits casinos make. The third license has been delayed until next summer, but with the ballot issue now settled, the state regulator will probably pick off where it left and award it sooner.

The repeal was surrounded by controversy over the past few months, with anti-casino campaigners claiming the other side was trying to manipulate voters. But recent polls consistently showed locals did not plan to repeal the law.

Mass Live: Wording of ballot question repealing Massachusetts casino law could prove confusing in November

On the referendum held in Massachusetts in November, “no” means “yes” and “yes means “no”. Some fear the ballot question could confuse voters and cause them to approve the exact opposite of what they really want.

After Secretary of State William Galvin’s office released the official wording of the question regarding casino gambling in Massachusetts, campaigners noticed that a “no” vote would actually approve of the law which will bring three resort-style casinos to the state.

According to online gambling news, anti-casino activists first voiced their complaints in 2011, shortly after Gov. Deval Patrick signed the new gambling bill into law. But it wasn’t until 2013 that they managed to collect enough signatures to support their efforts with a ballot proposal.

Now the referendum is over and casino developers received the green light to start building their projects.

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