SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The countdown has now begun. Springfield residents will return to polls in less than 3 weeks to vote on the casino referendum.
Some people are hoping voters will say "No" on July 16th.
An Anti-Casino Group in Springfield has tried asking for a public debate with Mayor Domenic Sarno and MGM, but after both declined their invitations, casino opponents are now appealing directly to voters, highlighting the negative impacts of a casino.
Three speakers with one message. "Just Vote "No" on the Springfield Casino Referendum on July 16th. Hundreds of western Massachusetts residents attended a public forum Wednesday night to discuss possible consequences of having a casino so close to their homes.
Leah Gregg who lives in Northampton but attends church in Springfield told 22News, "My main concern is increasing crime, gambling addiction, prostitution, all the things that Springfield is struggling with will only get worse."
Alondra Felepeto of Springfield said, "Young people will see their parents. Dad goes there everyday. Mom goes there, too. But I don't think it actually helps. It might be good to go once in a while, but I think it might be a daily habit for those live near Springfield."
Gambling addiction isn't the only concern the group has. Casino opponents are concerned once visitors go inside a casino, they will stay there and eat there, instead of utilizing local businesses. Opponents told 22News a casino in Springfield will do more harm than good in the long run.
Bruce Randall of Longmeadow told 22News, "Hurts the local economy. A lot of the local shops, restaurants, entertainment venues will be distressed by this, and eventually there will be a collapse of what Springfield is and what it means to us."
All Springfield registered voters can vote on the referendum on July 16th, and regardless of the outcome, MGM will reimburse the city $220,000 for the cost of the referendum.