The measure is Question 3 on the ballot and asks “Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 6, 2014?”
A YES VOTE would prohibit casinos, any gaming establishment with slot machines, and wagering on simulcast greyhound races.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the current laws regarding gaming.
In a June ruling, the State Supreme Court agreed with the petition filers that the casino law’s existence should be left up to the state’s voters; a ruling that has sparked an intense debate in the state.
Whether the repeal passes, or if the casino expansion law is upheld by the voters, it will likely be a very close vote based on polling numbers indicating Massachusetts residents are fairly split on the issue, with a slight edge to keeping the law as it is.
This is why every vote will count, and why both sides are trying to get their messages out, and trying to mobilize their voters.
Enter the Committee to Protect Massachusetts Jobs
On one side of the aisle are the anti-casino groups that first formed when casino license applicants made their initial sales pitches in several communities. Among these groups are Repeal the Casino Deal and Citizens for Milford (formerly Casino Free Milford).
Initially these groups were only opposed by the casinos themselves , which allowed these groups to run virtually unopposed on a grass roots level.
That being said, with repeal now on their mind these groups are now being fought against by at least one new group calling themselves The Committee to Protect Massachusetts Jobs (C2PMJ).
The C2PMJ group is painting itself as a diverse coalition, claiming, “Members of the coalition include groups and individuals from all walks of life – businesses, labor unions, elected officials, individuals and resort casino companies.”
“Between now and Election Day of November 4, we will be engaging voters across the Commonwealth about the benefits that gaming will bring to Massachusetts,” said Wooten Johnson, Campaign Manager for Vote No on Question 3. “There are many benefits to highlight, and a fair amount of misinformation we need to combat.”
As the name suggests, C2PMJ’s primary goal is to fight for the estimated 10,000 new jobs the casinos will create for the Massachusetts economy, as well as the estimated 6,500 construction jobs that will be needed to build the three resort-style casinos and single slots parlor.
According to the C2PMJ press release, “These jobs will have an average compensation of around $45,000 in salary and benefits.”
C2PMJ’s other stated goals include, making sure the communities that approved casino projects get what they were promised, and making sure the estimated $1 billion in gambling revenue generated by Massachusetts residents no longer goes across state lines.
Putting the toothpaste back in the tube
Two communities have approved the creation of a casino, Revere and Springfield, while Plainville has approved the addition of a Slots Casino to the Plainridge Race Course. Plainville’s license (applied for by Penn National) has already been approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and construction has already begun.
“For our community, this means we can afford to do things like build a new public safety complex and a new town hall without taxpayers having to pay for it,” said Plainville Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes. “Not to mention the 125 jobs that will be preserved at the horse racing track, 500 new jobs and substantial opportunities for local businesses – new and old. It is not fair to try to take that away from us.”
According to estimates, Plainville will earn approximately $1.5 million annually in property taxes and approximately $2-3 million each year in gaming profits when the facility opens.
Repeal = wasted time and money
One aspect the press release did not touch upon is the amount of money Massachusetts has spent creating the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and holding numerous hearings and meetings, as well as vetting the license applicants.
There is also the not so small matter of the money spent by several casino groups who have leased or bought land in good faith, created proposals, as well as going through the costly licensing process.
If the 2011 casino expansion law is repealed it will be akin to pulling the rug out from under these companies who were ready to invest in Massachusetts gaming. This could also potentially lead to several lawsuits by these companies.
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