|By Chris Maza|
LONGMEADOW – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has stated that enthusiasm – or lack thereof – for a casino expressed by surrounding communities would play a role in to which company a gaming license is awarded.
With this in mind, a Western Massachusetts group opposed to the possible existence of a casino located in downtown Springfield recently ensured that an article would be included on the Nov. 5 Special Town Meeting warrant asking the town to take a side.
No Casino Springfield’s non-binding referendum, if passed, would state that Longmeadow is not in favor of MGM’s proposal for an $800 million development in neighboring Springfield and would urge the Massachusetts Gaming Commission not to issue a gaming license to the company.
“Be it resolved, that the Longmeadow Town Meeting urges the Massachusetts Gaming Commission not to issue a license to operate a casino in the cities of Springfield or West Springfield,” the resolution reads.
The resolution mentions a possible casino in West Springfield because the deadline for warrant articles was before West Springfield hosted its referendum vote regarding a Hard Rock casino development on the site of the Eastern States Exposition, Grant told Reminder Publications. West Springfield residents voted in opposition of the proposed development in their town on Sept. 10.
No Casino Springfield has been active and visible in its campaign against a gaming center in the city, including the creation of a website, www.nocasinospringfield.com, which contains links to studies, as well as a documentary outlining possible impacts a casino can have on surrounding communities.
While non-binding, Grant, selectman and member of No Casino Springfield, said it was his belief that adopting a resolution could have an effect on where a casino is located in Western Massachusetts.
West Springfield residents will also be voting on a similar referendum the same evening and a lack of support from surrounding communities as well as a tepid response from Springfield residents could sway the Gaming Commission’s decision, he said.
“Similarly, the strength of the vote in the host community will be a factor, and Springfield’s vote in favor – 57 percent – has been by far the lowest in the state,” he said.
In addition to votes on non-binding resolutions in those towns, Palmer will be hosting its referendum vote at which residents will decide whether or not they want Mohegan Sun to build a casino development there.
If Palmer residents vote against it, MGM’s Springfield project would be the only remaining proposal for the one Western Massachusetts gaming license.
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