An anti-casino group is calling for the suspension of all casino referendum votes in Massachusetts, including next week’s scheduled vote in Springfield. In letters sent to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and top elected officials, the group Citizens Against Casino Gaming says it expected to be heavily outspent by MGM and supporters of its proposed casino in Springfield. But Dr. Mark Mullan, the group’s treasurer, says the existing referendum process makes no opportunity for dissenting views to be heard. And that is something he says the Commission needs to provide.
“We believe that people need to hear both sides before they’re able to vote. People still may be in favor of a casino but they clearly have not heard the other side at all.”
Mullan says along with the virtually one-sided coverage by Springfield-area media outlets, the City’s elected officials have failed to provide a forum where voters can hear both sides of the casino issue. And he takes to task Mayor Domenic Sarno for sending out an information packet to voters about next Tuesday’s vote that, unlike other ballot initiatives, includes no opposing summary.
“He can be in favor a casino, and he clearly is, but I think it’s his job as mayor of a city to be sure that both sides are heard. And the fact that he’s doing commercials for this business entity, I just find that an incredible conflict.”
A Gaming Commission spokesperson says its lawyers are currently reviewing the group’s letter, but adds the commission is respectful of the legislature’s intent which establishes local control over the referendum process. A spokesman for Mayor Sarno is declining comment.