| BOSTON, June 24
BOSTON, June 24 Massachusetts voters will have
an opportunity in November to repeal a 2011 law legalizing
gambling, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled on Tuesday, casting
uncertainty over a years-long effort to bring casinos to the
The question came before the court after Massachusetts
Attorney General Martha Coakley sought to block the casino
referendum, arguing it could violate property rights of
The "voters of Massachusetts may choose to abolish casino
and slots parlor gambling," the court said in its unanimous
decision, noting gambling opponents had gathered more than
enough signatures to place the question on the ballot.
Coakley, a Democrat who is running for governor, said in a
statement she was pleased the court had ruled on the matter and
that "it is now an issue that will be decided by the voters in
Under the gambling law, Massachusetts can award one slot
parlor license and three casino licenses statewide.
The slots license was awarded in February and just one of
the three casino licenses has been awarded. The winner, Las
Vegas developer MGM Resorts International, has put off
formally accepting the license for its development in the
western Massachusetts city of Springfield until the repeal
question is settled.
Meanwhile, developers Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts are
seeking the state's eastern Massachusetts license with competing
proposals for Revere and Everett. The state's gaming commission
is expected to choose between the two in August.
Officials from MGM, Mohegan Sun and Wynn were not
immediately available to comment on the court's decision.
Casino advocates say the resorts will bring windfalls to
cash-strapped communities and staunch the flow of money into
casinos elsewhere in the Northeast. Critics say casinos could
drive up crime and hurt property values.
"This is kind of a small victory in a big battle that we're
still fighting," said Joseph Catricala, co-chair of Don't Gamble
on Revere, a casino-opposition group that led the referendum
effort. He called the statewide vote the "best shot" at stopping
casino development in the state.
Casino gambling has had mixed success in New England.
Connecticut has two large casinos owned by Indian tribes, Maine
has two small casinos and Rhode Island has two slot machine
parlors. New Hampshire state legislators last year rejected a
bill that would have allowed construction of a casino that had
strong support from Governor Maggie Hassan.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Bill Trott)