Springfield residents today voted in favor of bringing a proposed 800-million dollar casino to the city’s south end. About a quarter of Springfield’s registered voters cast ballots in the special election — aided by volunteers on both sides of the issue who braved ninety degree heat to knock on doors and hold “YES” or “NO” signs until polls closed. Springfield art gallery owner Rosemary Tracy Woods spent the day at a polling place with no air conditioning. Woods says the 15% margin of victory was closer than she expected — which she says made the win that much sweeter.
“Oh I’m so excited, I’m so excited. I’ve worked so hard for this campaign. This is awesome. The best thing since popcorn!”
Woods says she hopes a casino will attract more business to her gallery and offer jobs for her grandhcildren. MGM estimates the casino will employ more than 2,000 permanent, full time workers. But resident Kathy Gaskew says even if the casino brings some jobs to the city, it could drive her away.
“It will change the entire atmosphere of the city. I don’t know what the next steps will be. I hope there is a way to overturn it and if not, I may consider leaving Springfield.”
The Citizens Against Casino Gaming says it will now focus on convincing the state gaming commission not to award MGM the single casino license available to Western Massachusetts. Residents of Palmer and West Springfield haven’t yet voted on casinos proposed for those communities. The gaming commission expects to award the license by April 2014.