| BOSTON, June 18
BOSTON, June 18 An effort to repeal a 2011
Massachusetts law allowing casinos in the state took a step
forward on Wednesday, as opponents said they had collected
enough voter signatures to trigger a November referendum on the
Anti-casino group Repeal The Casino Deal said it had
collected more than 26,000 signatures supporting its call for a
referendum, more than double the 11,485 signatures required to
get on the ballot.
"The interest and excitement around this question is
tremendous and only growing," said Darek Barcikowski, the
group's campaign manager, in a statement late Tuesday. "The
state just doesn't need the downsides we know will come with
Under a 2011 Massachusetts law that sought to stimulate
economic development, one slot parlor license and three casino
licenses are available statewide. The slots license was awarded
in February for a facility in Plainville, about 30 miles (48 km)
southwest of Boston.
Casino opponents contend the franchises are more likely to
breed crime and tank property values than help ailing local
Only one of the three casino licenses has been awarded, to
Las Vegas developer MGM Resorts International, with
formal licensing on hold pending the referendum.
Anti-casino activists said they would keep collecting
signatures until the Wednesday night deadline to submit the
petition to city and town clerks.
The petition must then be sent to Secretary of State William
Galvin's office by July 2, where it will be checked for
compliance with a number of legal regulations that it is so far
expected to meet, said Brian McNiff, a spokesman.
"Obviously the signatures have to be looked at, they have to
be reviewed, but, subject to that review, it (the measure) gets
approved and it goes on the ballot," said McNiff.
Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court is also reviewing the
matter, weighing an appeal from the anti-casino group over
Attorney General Martha Coakley's ruling last year that a repeal
vote would unconstitutionally violate the property contract
rights of casino developers. The court is expected to rule by
If the referendum does not proceed or fails to win voter
support, MGM plans to build an $800 million casino in
Springfield, located 90 miles (145 km) west of Boston.
Developers Caesars Entertainment Corp and Wynn
Resorts Ltd are also seeking licenses.
(Editing by Scott Malone and David Gregorio)