Massachusetts voters don’t back casino repeal; Mohegan Sun called two-timers

TAGs: boston, Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun, palmer, repeal the casino deal, Suffolk Downs

massachusetts-casino-fightMassachusetts casino hopefuls are breathing a little easier after a new poll showed a majority of voters aren’t in favor of repealing state gambling laws. This week saw a new UMass Lowerll/7News poll showing 59% of the state’s likely voters don’t support a ballot initiative seeking to repeal the 2011 laws authorizing the development of three casinos and one slots hall.

Just over one-third (36%) of the 1,624 voters surveyed are supporting the law’s repeal this November and 5% are on the fence. As they say, polls are of most use to dogs but two other polls in the past week have returned similar positions, with the repeal side’s support never rising above 42%. Poll author and Center for Public Opinion professor Joshua Dyck said the odds of a successful repeal look even worse when you factor in the well-funded lobbying campaign the casino backers are expected to unleash as election day draws closer.

The Repeal the Casino Deal crowd did win a prominent endorsement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said she’ll vote “yes” in November. (That means she doesn’t want casinos… as in, yes, it’s confusing.) The first-term democrat said her tough call had considered the jobs the casinos would bring but gambling “can also be a real problem economically for a lot of people.” The Repeal bunch is also pointing to the ongoing catastrophuck in Atlantic City as evidence of casino gambling’s impotence in propping up a local economy.

Of the 2011 law’s four permissible gaming joints, only Penn National Gaming’s slots hall in Plainville has actually started construction. MGM Resorts has been issued a provisional license for Western Massachusetts but things are on pause until the votes are counted in November. The Boston-area license is due to be awarded to either Wynn Resorts or Mohegan Sun on or around Sept. 12, while no decision will be made on the license for the southeastern part of the state until after November’s vote.

The quest to reach the Boston-area casino license finish line has been sufficiently cutthroat that even Frodo might have decided to turn back. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) and its chairman Stephen Crosby got into a knife fight with Caesars Entertainment, who also spat loogies at Wynn, who in turn slammed the Mohegans while the mayor of Boston challenged Steve Wynn to his choice of pistols or sabers and all parties have had it out with the Repeal zealots.

Meanwhile, Mohegan Sun continues to regret the fling it had in Palmer, the tribe’s original choice to build its Massachusetts casino. Last November 5, Mohegan Sun’s bid to win the affections of Palmer’s local residents went down to defeat in a referendum. According to emails viewed by the Boston Globe, the tribe began cuddling up to Revere’s Suffolk Downs racetrack the very next day. Mohegan Sun apparently wasn’t legally permitted to do so for another two weeks, when it finally got around to terminating its exclusive deal with Palmer landowner Northeast Realty Associates .

Northeast has filed suit against Mohegan Sun, claiming that their agreement legally prevented the tribe from “engaging in discussions or negotiations concerning the opening of any gaming facility” anywhere else in the state. Mohegan Sun has similarly accused Northeast of chatting up other casino operators and is looking to recover $22m Mohegan Sun claims to have spent trying to win Palmer’s heart and minds.

With less than two weeks to go before the Boston license is awarded, the suggestion has been made that Wynn might use the Mohegan v. Northeast revelations as proof that Mohegan Sun aren’t to be trusted. It’s probably a lock that Repeal will use this revelation as mud to hurl at all casino companies. Trouble is, everybody in this affair is already so covered in shit it’s a wonder anyone would notice.


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