Casino repeal could become the issue of the 2014 election
The race for governor is still young, but so far, it’s a contest that’s lacked both star power and sizzle. Early polling shows that the race hasn’t registered with voters. It’s possible that the hottest point of contention in November won’t come from the gubernatorial candidates themselves. Instead, the real heat in November will surround casino gambling.
Yesterday, attorney general hopeful Maura Healey endorsed a proposed ballot question that would repeal the state’s gambling law. Healey announced her stance in a post on the liberal blog Blue Mass Group. “I do not believe a modern economy that is focused on creating opportunities for every person can be built on gambling,” she wrote. “Casinos don’t lay a foundation for diverse economies, they take over.”
In an interview with the Herald, Healey argued that the social and economic costs of casino development outweigh the revenue they generate, arguing, “I don’t want people to get hurt.” The Herald also notes that Healey’s anti-casino position puts her at odds with her former boss, Martha Coakley, who has argued that a casino repeal ballot question would be illegal.
Healey’s Democratic primary opponent, former state senator Warren Tolman, told the Herald that he wouldn’t support a casino in his hometown of Watertown, but he noted that the choice to host a gambling facility is “one that a number of communities have made.”
Backers of the repeal effort have a May court date, where they’re expected to argue that if it was legal for voters to ban greyhound racing in 2008, then it should also be legal to put a casino repeal question to voters.
The state’s gambling commission recently licensed its first gaming facility, awarding a slot machine license to the Plainridge Racecourse. The commission isn’t expected to make a decision on a Boston-area casino until the fall; a decision on a southeastern regional casino, which was delayed by legal questions surrounding the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, likely won’t come until after the Boston license is settled.
Polling on a hypothetical repeal question has been mixed. A new poll from Western New England University found ample support for the state casino law among registered voters. A February poll from Suffolk University had the question much closer, but still had support for the casino law at 51 percent. A March WBUR/MassINC Polling Group poll had opponents of casinos closing to within three points of supporters.
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MEDIAThe Boston Globe is awarded the Pulitzer Prize in the breaking news category for the paper’s coverage of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing.
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