As Springfield officials continue their plan to select one or more bidders to develop a possible casino in the city, a new group has organized to oppose the effort. The group Citizens Against Casino Gaming filed papers as a municipal ballot question committee with the Springfield Election Commission two weeks ago. Chairman Michael Kogut, a lawyer and nearly 30-year Springfield resident, says the filing allows the committee to solicit donations of any amount, including corporate support, to help educate residents about what he calls the negative effects of siting a casino in Springfield.
“Study after study will show that when gaming comes to town, there’s an up-tick in crime, there’s an up-tick in additional socioeconomic and social ills that an urban center like Springfield suffers. Not to mention traffic and a drain on resources like police and fire.”
Springfield officials have touted a proposed casino as a major catalyst for economic development. Kogut says while he gives Mayor Domenic Sarno credit for proposing a competitive bidding process, he’s not buying the Mayor’s argument that a casino in the city would be a boon to economic development.
“His so-called billion dollar economic plan or economic stimulus for glitz and glitter is not the way to correct the problems the city has.”
City officials say they are not surprised a committee would form in opposition to a casino. Kevin Kennedy is Springfield’s Chief Development Officer.
“I think it will be healthy for the citizens. I mean, there should be both pro and con in any type of election like this. It’s not unanticipated.”
Meanwhile, Kogut says Citizens Against Casino Gaming has filed a request with the city about fees paid to its casino consultant, Shefsky and Froelich. And he says the committee will begin filing requests every month for invoices and expenses until Springfield’s contract with the consultant ends. According to Kogut, state law requires the city to respond within ten days to such a request.