Casino opponents pleased with court decision

Question to appear on November ballot

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Casino opponents, who collected thousands of signatures to put a repeal of the state’s 2011 gaming law on the November ballot, have something to celebrate Tuesday, following a decision by the state’s highest court.

Michael Eagan, from the group Repeal the Casino Deal, told 22News Tuesday that he is pleased the Supreme Judicial Court ruled to allow the question to be certified for the ballot.

The 2011 law, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, allows for the licensing of up to three casinos and one slots parlor in the state. Specific casino proposals have been approved by voters in Springfield, Everett, Taunton, and Revere, and rejected by voters in Palmer and West Springfield, but there has not been a statewide popular vote on the matter, and Eagan says that is needed.

“This is really democracy with a capital ‘D’; allowing every voter to vote. I think it’s important every voter across the state vote because of the known negative impacts of casinos,” Eagan said.

Casino opponent Steven Abdow, who is named in the lawsuit that the court decided, told 22News that he feels a “great sense of relief” following Tuesday’s ruling. “It is very gratifying; been involved heavily with this for 15,16 months since we first started this effort. We think repeal is right for the entire state.”

Now, the campaign begins to win more people over to the repeal side, while MGM and other gaming companies get ready to fight back.

Members of “Repeal the Casino Deal” say their game plan is to educate. Nathan Bech said, “I think when people get the information about how detrimental casinos are to families, to communities and small businesses, they’ll realize this is not good for our state.”

Repeal the Casino Deal collected more than 26,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot; more than double the amount required by law.

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