November Elections Will Decide Future of Gaming in MA

Massachusetts welcomes youEvery election is extremely important, but for Massachusetts residents the 2014 November mid-term elections are extremely important for pro-gambling types, as the statewide races and a ballot referendum will likely determine the future of gambling in Massachusetts for the foreseeable future.

Here is what you need to know about the views on gambling of the candidates running for Governor and State Treasurer, as well as what you need to know about Question 3.

The Governorship

The candidates for the Governorship have fairly similar views on both land-based casinos and potential expansion into online gaming.

In June, Republican Charlie Baker said he “wasn’t sure” how he would vote on Question 3, but in September he told he would not only vote against the repeal, but also fully supports the MGM Casino project in Western Mass.

“I will vote against repeal. After walking the site of the proposed MGM project, I believe it should be the first casino built in Massachusetts… After that, I think the best plan is that we start with one casino and gauge the impacts on our communities before going forward with more casinos.”

His opponent, Democrat Martha Coakley, was also somewhat wishy-washy on the casino repeal question, and seems to have adopted a stance quite similar to Baker’s during the democratic primary debates – that is to say, if the repeal happens she would be in favor of a single casino in Springfield.

During a debate in October the pair seemed to be reading from the same script.

“I’m going to vote against the casino repeal,” Baker said, “If the voters choose to reject casinos completely, I will want to have a debate about the Springfield site and we’ll see what happens.”

“I agree with Charlie that as the voters in Springfield voted for a casino,” was Coakley’s response to the question, “if it can be part of a larger economic plan, I’ll support that, if they still want it.”

Neither candidate seems overly interested in online gaming expansion. Of the two Coakley has been the more outspoken, which landed her on the Poker Players Alliance’s (PPA) Poker Jokers list.

When it comes to the gubernatorial candidates there doesn’t appear to be anything even remotely approaching a gaming champion to choose from.

State Treasurer

In Massachusetts the State Treasurer is in charge of the lottery, and as current Treasurer Steve Grossman has proven, the office will play an instrumental role in land-based gaming and potential expansion into online gambling.

Republican Mike Heffernan, Democrat Deb Goldberg and Green-Rainbow candidate Ian Jackson are all on the November 4th ballot for the office or Treasurer. Two of the three have come out in favor of repealing the casino expansion law (Goldberg and Jackson), with only the Republican candidate Mike Heffernan opposing the repeal.

Heffernan was quoted in the Eagle Tribune as saying, “I think the casinos attract a different kind of customer. I think concerns about the lottery taking a hit are overblown.”

Heffernan is also the only candidate of the three who sees the potential of Internet lottery sales.

In the same Eagle Tribune article Heffernan said, “The lottery player base is aging so that is one way to look at how to protect future revenues,” while his two opponents were opposed to it. Goldberg even pulled out the tired arguments of online gaming being “hard to control,” and that there are “issues in our society with addictive gambling.”

Hardly the stances one would expect from a Massachusetts Democrat.

If casino expansion and potential expansion into online gaming are important issues to you, Mike Heffernan is your candidate for State Treasurer.

Question 3

As important as the statewide races are for gaming in the long term, a ballot referendum (Question 3) that is attempting to repeal the casino expansion law passed in 2011 is even more important for the state’s immediate future.

As it currently stands the polls, the money, and the momentum are all on the side of voting down the repeal attempt.

The main lobbying group fighting against the repeal is Coalition to Support Mass Jobs – You can show your support for the group by liking their Facebook page, and following them on Twitter.

The group has already aired three ads urging voters to oppose the repeal, and recently received some financial support from Wynn Resorts, which wrote the group a $1,000,000 check.

In addition to the groups in Massachusetts, the PPA has also weighed in on the ballot referendum, urging their members to vote NO in MA on Question 3:

“We’re encouraging all Massachusetts poker players to do their part on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th. We need your help to defeat the Affordable Casino Repeal Initiative, “Question 3”. Voting NO on Question 3 will preserve new poker opportunities in our state and it will also create thousands of new jobs.”

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