SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The casino consultant that stirred controversy in Springfield, raising conflict of interest concerns, is also the reason an anti-casino group has formed in Springfield.
Attorney Michael Kogut, who filed paperwork Monday establishing the committee known as Citizens Against Casino Gaming , told 22News on Tuesday he is not happy about what's happening in Springfield, especially the hiring of a consultant so soon.
"I think the Mayor was pushing hot and heavy. He said he was going to fight tooth and nail and I don't think he took a breath to see what this means for the city other than the dollar signs, the glitz and the glamour," Kogut said.
"I think the pressure is starting to build on both sides. I've had calls from outside communities, it's not only host community members who will be impacted. I've had calls from people in South Hadley, Longmeadow, other communities, people are very concerned about the dangers casinos bring."
Unlike political candidates, this group will be allowed to receive contributions without dollar limits and also accept campaign contributions.
The Chairwoman of Springfield's Casino Siting Committee, Paula Meara, told 22News that she is happy to see everyone getting involved in the process and exercising their right to have opinions.
She said that even she is not sold on casinos, but she is interested in hearing what the different gaming companies have to offer and how it would impact Western Massachusetts.
22News contacted the mayor for comment; he issued this statement:
"There is a long and carefully regulated process ahead for any casino company ultimately coming forward with a proposal to build within the City of Springfield.
My Administration and Economic Development team will methodically and meticulously review any proposals presented to the City to ensure that our residents and businesses are the true beneficiaries of the minimum $500 million investment the casino company will be required to make.
It is extremely important that the City perform extreme due diligence so that the voters of Springfield can make an informed decision when the issue ultimately comes before the voters at a later date."