Mass. High Court Ponders Casino Repeal Question

Massachusetts’ high court heard arguments Monday about the future of gambling in the state. Justices will decide whether a ballot question repealing the state’s casino law can appear on the November ballot.

This case is about property, and whether a successful ballot question would illegally take property from casino companies. Thomas Bean represents the group Repeal the Casino Deal.

“There’s no revocation here,” Bean told the court. “No individual license will be taken. There would be an abolition of the program that provides for licensing.”

That’s something Bean says voters have the right to do.

Attorney General Martha Coakley disagrees. Her office says the referendum would break an implied contract and prevent the state gaming commission from doing its work.

“Applicants have paid many millions of dollars for decisions on their applications,” says Peter Sacks with the attorney general’s office. “They’re entitled by statute and regulation to detailed decisions on their applications.”

And if that doesn’t happen – if the vote goes forward and the law is repealed – Sacks says the state would owe at least some money to casino companies.