22-year old Alex Morse run for the position of Holyoke mayor last year and one of the platforms that secured the office for him was his opposition of casino plans to be built in the city. A year later, Morse is reversing course, abandoning his previous stance and announcing his intentions to now throw his support behind plans for a casino near Interstate 91 on the side of Mount Tom.
And you wonder why a lot of people don’t trust politicians.
Morse’s decision to jump him and swim to the other side of the buoy was born from the realization that having a casino in Holyoke would provide a much-needed jumpstart to its floundering economy and surrounding areas. “As Mayor, it is my duty and obligation to think holistically about our city and the region,” Morse said on his Facebook page before adding, “when any business plan is presented to me, it is my responsibility to consider it. This is exactly what I am doing with the Mountain Park proposal”.
Morse understands that his decision to now support a casino in the city will lead to questions surrounding his true intentions when initially was a strong voice in the opposition. After all, if you’re entire campaign was founded on this very stance and then you decide to change your and support the people you originally opposed, people are going to have some questions – and a lot of pointed ones at that.
For Morse, the most important thing is providing economic relief to Holyoke, and if having a casino is a sure fire way to jumpstart economic improvements, then he’s all for it. Backlash be damned.
Nevertheless, the mayor’s change of mind won’t exactly drop a casino into the city; the whole process is a lot more complicated than that. For one, Mountain Park and Iron Horse Entertainment, the company who made a proposal to set up a casino in Holyoke, will have to compete with a number of heavyweight casino companies like MGM Resorts International, Ameristar, and Penn National to secure the one casino slot allotted for Western Massachusetts.
And then there’s the matter of voting on the issue. Even if Morse did change his mind and throw his support to the pro-casino movement, the final say of any casino is still subject to a referendum vote from the residents of a particular city and town. All that has to happen before a license can be granted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.