Casinos have always been a part of Connecticut. If you live in Massachusetts and are in the mood to gamble, chances are you’ll make the trek to either Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods in our neighboring state.
But that’s about to change. Back in 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed casinos into approval in the Bay State. And now, many cities in the state are faced with the question just where are these casinos going to be?
Here in western Massachusetts, there are a few options: Hard Rock Café is vying for a West Springfield location, Mohegan Sun has its eyes on Palmer, and Penn National and MGM are competing for a spot in Springfield.
But here’s the catch: there’s only one site available for a western Mass casino.
Meanwhile, in eastern Mass, potential casino resort cities include Taunton, Milford, and east Boston.
Samantha Gillis, who is from Mansfield, Massachusetts, a town south of Boston said that while they thought casinos were a good thing for the economy, but would never actually go herself.
“I think they’re a fun way to spend your time but I’ve never been to one, I have no plans to. Maybe I’ll go if they have a concert or show that I want to go to, but I don’t really see the appeal of gambling.”
She says casinos would add a lot of needed jobs, but she doesn’t think Bostonians would be welcome to the change.
“I think it’s a good thing for Massachusetts. I mean, any sort of added revenue to the state is a positive but no one in Eastern Mass. wants the casino. Because it’s already really congested in eastern Mass with Gillette and Boston,” Gillis said. “Maybe it would help us out but I really think it would be better placed in western Mass, where there’s a lot more land and a lot more people looking in it than in western Mass. I’ve only seen positives out in Western Mass. But in eastern Mass, no one wanted it. There was maybe one sign in favor of the casino.”
Chris Herrick is from Billerica and he says not only is he for the casino, but he would also go when he turns 21.
“ They would bring in a lot of money and that would definitely help the economy in Mass. and it would just bring more people here because it would be an attraction for people to come and see,” Herrick said. “When I’m of age, I would go to the Massachusetts ones. It would be more convenient if they were located in Massachusetts because they would be closer than Connecticut would be.”
Herrick says having a casino in places like Springfield or Boston could create several problems, but overall, still supports casinos in Massachusetts.
“It is a pretty congested place so I feel like if there was a casino there, then the casino would bring in a lot of people and a lot of consumers, then that would bring in a lot of traffic issues,” Herrick said. “And then crime is definitely a safety issue so when they make the casinos they have to consider all the safety issues that go into creating it. So I suppose crime and traffic would both go up. But I think the pros, which would be the economic boost, would probably outweigh the cons at this time.”
But others like Graham McLennan would disagree. McLennan is from Westport, Massachusetts, which is more near Rhode Island than any of the potential Massachusetts casino cities. Still, he is strongly against casinos coming into the state.
“They exhibit the whole purpose of generating revenue for the area but in my opinion that’s just a mask to get people to support them. They say Native Americans are behind them, and they also try to get people’s sympathy for them, but I don’t think that’s true,” said McLennan. “They may have a bit of influence, but overall I think it’s other races in general that take up the real business side of it. Overall I think it’s a real waste of space and time and money.”
He says placing a casino in Massachusetts is bad enough, but placing it in places like Palmer, where there is a lot of land, could make the situation worse.
“More than one casino, especially in a populated area, would be a negative hindrance on the state,” he said. “Especially if it’s located in a preserved area that’s not as city like, it’s just tearing up wildlife for gambling and addictions and vices.”
Despite his dislike towards casinos, McLennan has been to Twin Rivers in Rhode Island. He says the experience opened his eyes further to the vice of gambling.
“On the outside, even the exterior is a big mask to the inside. The inside is a dumpy rundown. It’s filled with elderly people who have spent their time and money unfortunately on gambling, wasting that part of their life away. It’s a money sucker for people who aren’t at a good point in their life. They’re not as strong as they can be. They fall to their addictions and vices and lose all their money, too.”
Whether or not you’re against gambling and casinos, don’t expect one anytime soon. Locations for the three casino resorts have yet to be determined. And also, it will take at least a few years to build the buildings! So for those of you against it, you still have a few more years of a gambling-free state. And for those of you for it, looks like you might have to make a few more trips out to our neighboring states for gambling sessions before Massachusetts becomes your closest option.