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SJC Clears the Way for November Referendum on Casinos

BOSTON — On June 24, the state Supreme Judicial Court cleared the way for a repeal of the state casino law in November’s election. In a unanimous vote, the SJC ruled that Attorney General Martha Coakley was wrong to reject the anti-casino ballot question last year. “We conclude that the attorney general erred in declining to certify and grant the requested relief so that the initiative may be decided by the voters at the November election,” the court said in a lengthy decision written by Justice Ralph Gants. The ruling paves the way the way for what experts predict will be a protracted — and expensive — campaign that will certainly draw significant national interest. Commenting on the court’s decision, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno stated, “I appreciate the due diligence and consideration the SJC has given to this case. Going forward, we will proceed like we did last year before our local referendum and present the facts on what this means to not only Springfield but to Western Mass. and the entire Commonwealth.” He argued that the two main keys to knocking down poverty and public-safety issues in urban America are education and jobs. “People are hungry to work. MGM Springfield is a massive jobs-generation project. It also means $50 million dollars in local vendor procurement opportunities and the redevelopment of the downtown area heavily affected by the June 1, 2011 tornado.” He added, “The entertainment attractions that MGM Springfield will offer to all of New England will not only bring new life and vibrancy to Western Mass., but help to repatriate over a billion dollars currently leaving Massachusetts to other resort destinations. We are prepared and optimistic that, once the voters of the Commonwealth see and hear all the facts, we will prevail.” Michael Mathis, president of MGM Springfield, also weighed in on the decision in a prepared statement. “MGM Resorts has spent three years collaborating and talking with the people of Western Mass. on the value of a casino resort as a unique economic-development catalyst,” he said. “We are confident that our urban revitalization project in Springfield, one of the Commonwealth’s most prominent gateway cities, is something to which all Massachusetts voters can relate. It is a comeback story in progress with hardworking people eager to grow jobs and get back to work. We are fully prepared to extend this message to a larger audience through a statewide campaign to educate the voters on the enormous economic benefits that would be lost to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth in a repeal.”

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