SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Opponents to a proposed casino in Springfield have organized a committee to bring their cause to the people of the city.
Springfield Attorney Michael Kogut announced Friday that he has filed paperwork establishing the committee, which is known as Citizens Against Casino Gaming. The committee, which will be able to accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations, is intended to persuade residents to reject a proposed casino in the city. At least four developers have expressed an interest in building in Springfield.
Under the state's gaming law, residents of communities where casinos are proposed must vote to approve a casino plan before it can get final approval from the Gaming Commission. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has indicated that he wants to bring one or more casino proposals before city voters by spring of 2013.
In the mean time, Kogut says that his group will work to provide information and "fact-check the one-sided casino public relations campaign."
"While no match for the out-of-state financial resources of the powerful casino lobby, Springfield residents will now have an avenue and forum to express their opposition to a casino in Springfield if and when a ballot question is placed before the voters," Kogut said.
The group favors holding a city-wide vote, rather than a vote solely in the ward in which the proposed casino is located. Under the state law, larger communities such as Boston and Springfield can have ward-only votes, while smaller communities must have town-wide votes. It is unclear at this time whether Springfield's vote will be city-wide or ward-specific, though the City Council is expected to decide in the next few weeks.
Casino proponents argue that building a casino in the city would provide thousands of jobs and increases in tax revenue, while opponents say that casinos bring increased crime and disproportionately harm low-income residents.