With Referendum Question Released, Pro and Anti-Casino Campaigns Begin in Springfield

Late last week in Springfield, the ballot question language for the proposed MGM Resorts casino was sent to voters, ahead of the referendum set for July 16th. Now the campaigns for and against the downtown casino are officially underway.

The referendum will ask whether voters approve of the proposed casino development and host community agreement with the city. That would allow MGM to continue to seek the sole casino license in western Massachusetts, which will be awarded by the state gaming commission.

Michael Kogut is chair of Citizens Against Casino Gaming. He says his organization faces long odds in their bid to rally support against MGM.

“It’s a classic David vs. Goliath. We are out there talking to community groups, just as MGM has been doing for quite some time, doing it grassroots. We have a couple of rallies planned next month, and we’ll just be going to as many voters as we can to educate them.”

Meanwhile, MGM held a “Vote Yes” campaign kickoff event last week. Michael Mathis, vice president of global gaming development at MGM, says the company’s grassroots operation is well underway, based out of its downtown office.

“Anybody can come in 9-5, and learn about the project, pick up collateral, and then we’ll be – we’ve got various supporters throughout the community and we’ll have them out in force.”

Mathis says MGM wants to build on what it sees as an already solid majority of voters supporting the measure ahead of the referendum.