SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - A Springfield-based anti-casino group wants next week's citywide casino referendum postponed, because they believe city residents haven't had enough time to hear their side of the story.
On Sunday, Citizens Against Casino Gaming sent letters to officials including Governor Deval Patrick and Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby, asking that all referendum votes in Massachusetts be put-off until "such time that the (Gaming) Commission can assure citizens of the Commonwealth that voters will have a reasonable opportunity to consider and evaluate all viewpoints on a matter that will affect their lives for years to come."
Springfield voters are scheduled to go to the polls to decide on MGM's proposed South End casino on Tuesday, July 16.
A recent exit poll of 600 voters taken by the 22News I-Team showed that 49% of voters supported MGM's proposal, with 35% of voters saying no, and a substantial 16% still undecided.
CACG says that the short timetable for the vote has been unfair to opponents, because proponents have the financial resources of MGM behind them, while opponents themselves have to fund their own campaign activities.
"For every $100 that opponents can raise and spend, casinos can spend $100,000. For every 10 messages opponents can convey, casinos can convey 10,000," reads the letter sent by Mark Mullan of CACG.
The group is also asking the state to mail-out a multi-lingual voter guide two weeks in advance of any referendum vote; something that is done for statewide ballot questions.
Though if implemented, CACG's proposal would have an immediate effect in Springfield, the city is just one of several communities in the state that will have such a vote. Casinos are also proposed for West Springfield and Palmer, though no referendum votes have yet been scheduled in those communities.
Click here to read CACG's letters to state officials