Holyoke City Councilors Plan Opposition to Casino

We’ve been reporting all week about Holyoke, Massachusetts Mayor Alex Morse’s change in position on a casino in the city. His new willingness to consider proposals for a casino development has resulted in many reactions. Among them is that of three city councilors who intend to file a resolution opposing casino development in Holyoke.

Councilor-at-large Rebecca Lisi is one of the three council members who intends to write the resolution. Lisi, who endorsed Morse in his election bid last year, says she was initially shocked by his change in position because he campaigned on an anti-casino platform. Lisi says while she personally opposes a casino, the city council must commit to a transparent process as Holyoke considers development proposals.

“While we’re in this phase, we need to make sure that information is accesible, that the public has access to these proposals, and that we are crafting the best possible proposal and host community agreement while we’re indicating this pathway.”

Morse has said he is still anti-casino, and has attempted to emphasize that he is changing his strategy, not his position, on casinos in the region, saying that a casino in neighboring Springfield will have economic impacts on Holyoke. But Lisi says many of Morse’s supporters feel betrayed by the mayor’s shift, which may complicate his re-election prospects.

“I do think that he’s going to have many challengers in this next election cycle, people that are pro-casino, people that are anti-casino, I think he’s going to get competition coming at him from both directions.”

Morse will be up for re-election next November. If one or more proposals and host community agreements are finalized by casino developers in Holyoke, a referendum on the developments could appear on the same ballot.