Mass. High Court Considers Casino Referendum Monday

A hugely important court hearing on Monday for the future of casinos in Massachusetts. The Supreme Judicial Court is considering whether a ballot question repealing the state’s gambling law will go before voters in November.

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office has ruled this ballot question unconstitutional, because it could essentially take property from companies who’ve already invested millions in the casino application process.

That opinion is backed up by gambling supporters – including officials in communities that could get casinos – like Springfield. They point out their residents already voted on the issue in local referendums.

But casino opponents say voters statewide have not had their say on whether they want casinos, and they want the state’s high court to allow the question on the ballot.

This uncertainty already unnerved some casino officials looking to open shop in Massachusetts. MGM, the only remaining applicant for a Western Mass casino, has asked state gaming regulators to delay issuing a final license. The company does not want to pay the many millions in fees until after the ballot question is settled.