Voter turnout is described as good for today’s casino referendum in Springfield Massachusetts. Voters will either endorse or reject an $800 million casino development proposed for downtown Springfield by MGM Resorts.
Springfield Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola said it appears voter turnout is on pace to reach 25 percent by the time the polls close at 8 p.m. That would be considered a good turnout, and a far cry better than three weeks ago when just 15 percent of the city’s voters went to the polls for the special election for U.S. Senate.
If voters approve the MGM project today , the company can apply to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the lone casino license available in western Massachusetts. If the referendum is defeated the Springfield casino project is dead.
Outside many polling places voters were greeted by signing carrying casino proponents and opponents.
Kelly Tucky, Vice President of Public Affairs for MGM Resorts International hopes today will be the big payoff for a sophisticated get-out-the-vote effort that saw volunteers knock on more than 28,000 doors and make thousands of phone calls.
MGM is hoping for a sizable win at the polls in Springfield to demonstrate to the gaming commission that the project enjoys strong community backing.
MGM put $1 million into the pro-casino campaign, with half that going to pay for an advertizing blitz. Citizens Against Casino Gaming reported raising $4,000.
Rev. Peter Swarr, Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow has been active in the anti-casino campaign in Springfield. He was stationed outside a busy polling place in the city’s Sixteen Acres neighborhood.
But pro-casino sentiment appeared to be running strong among voters sampled outside several polling places.
Hard Rock International is hoping for a vote on September 10th in West Springfield for its casino proposal. No date has been announced for a vote in Palmer on the Mohegan Sun casino project.