SJC Allows Casino Question on State Ballot

The statewide group that is trying to repeal the Massachusetts expanded gaming legislation scored a major victory Tuesday when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of allowing a casino repeal referendum question on November’s statewide ballot. The ruling will allow people in Massachusetts the right to vote on keeping or repealing the casino law and signaling the start of a new stage in the casino campaign.

“While this ruling marks a huge hurdle now cleared, it’s also the firing of the starting gun in this incredibly important campaign,” casino repeal chairman John Ribeiro said. “We know Massachusetts can do better than this casino mess. We’re elated at the opportunity to continue sharing the truth about casinos and the harm they would bring to our communities. Now’s the time to dig our heels in and spread our message.”

Last November, East Boston voters voted against a casino at Suffolk Downs. However, Suffolk Downs and its casino partner, Mohegan Sun moved the project to the Revere side of the property and held another ward referendum vote with Revere that passed overwhelmingly.

City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he supports Tuesday’s ruling. LaMattina, who represents two Boston neighborhood’s that could potentially end up with a casino next door, said he’s curious how the people of Eastie and Charlestown will vote in a statewide referendum.

“I think the Massachusetts Gaming Commission should not issue any licenses until a statewide vote is completed,” said LaMattina. “Then, the MGC should really look at how my district voted and see if it is wise to place a casino next to where people will be impacted.”

Since the Suffolk Downs casino proposal moved to the Revere side, LaMattina and Mayor Martin Walsh have argued that Boston should be a host community and the people of Eastie and Charlestown, right over the border from where Steve Wynn wants to place a casino in Everett, should be allowed to vote.

“While we argued that point unsuccessfully we still feel that the people of East Boston and Charlestown will be impacted by a Revere and Everett casino so their voices should be heard,” he said. “Now their voices will be heard during a statewide ballot question.”

Mohegan Sun’s Mitchell Etess said, “We believe we have the best plan to bring thousands of jobs, world class entertainment, local economic development, and increased tourism to the region and that is our focus right now. We will also join the chorus of others making the case to voters on why this law is good for workers, good for the economy, and good for the Commonwealth.”

In a release to the East Boston Times the Repeal the Casino Deal group said with the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling made in their favor, and all of the signatures to solidify a spot on the ballot submitted, activists will now turn their attention toward voters, campaigning for their vote to repeal the casino law.

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