Where candidates for Mass. governor stand on casinos

BOSTON (AP) — The future of casino gambling in Massachusetts has become a major topic of debate between Democratic and Republican candidates for governor

A 2011 law opened the door for casinos in the state for the first time, allowing for up to three resort casinos and one slots parlor, but a question before voters on the November ballot calls for repealing that law.

Charlie Baker

Baker, the former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, was the first candidate for governor to suggest the possibility of a single casino going forward even if Massachusetts voters repeal the gambling law in November.

The Republican said he would ask the Legislature to allow MGM Resorts to continue with a proposed $800 million casino in downtown Springfield. The state gambling commission awarded MGM the western Massachusetts casino license in June.

“I’m going to vote against the repeal effort,” Baker said. “And if the repeal effort is approved, I’m going to file legislation to put the Springfield casino back on the map,” Baker said recently.

While he supports the current law, Baker has said he would have preferred that it initially authorized only one casino.

Martha Coakley

The state attorney general ruled last year that the proposed ballot question calling for repeal of the casino gambling law was unconstitutional. But she also said she was “perfectly satisfied” with the unanimous decision by the state’s highest court to overturn her ruling.

The Democrat said she will vote against repeal, but her support for casinos has been lukewarm.

“I have said that casinos is not the first place I ever would have gone for economic development,” she said.

Coakley also said recently that she would keep an open mind toward the possibility of seeking legislative approval for a proposed $800 million casino in Springfield, even if the current law is repealed by voters.

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