casino referendum

MGM Springfield

The introduction of Las Vegas-style gambling to Massachusetts will proceed at a more rapid pace now that a major hurdle has been cleared.  Voters soundly defeated a ballot question to repeal the 2011 casino law.  

   With the cloud of uncertainty caused by the repeal vote lifted, The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting in Boston Thursday voted unanimously to formally award licenses to build and operate full-scale destination casinos to MGM Resorts for the company’s Springfield project and to Wynn Resorts in greater Boston.  

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority

Six years after Mohegan Sun planted its flag in Palmer with the idea of building a western Massachusetts resort casino, the Connecticut-based company is leaving the rural town and giving up control of a 152-acre site.

Mohegan Sun is terminating a 99-year lease on the former casino site -– a wooded hillside just off the MassPike — and giving up pursuit of a non-casino development there.  Town officials and the landowner, Northeast Reality, were notified Monday.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will not delay a decision on awarding the state’s most lucrative casino license until after the state’s voters weigh in on the fate of casino gambling.  It means the locations of proposed casinos will likely be settled by the time voters go to the polls in November.

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled today that a question asking voters to repeal the state’s casino law can go on the November ballot.  It sets up what promises to be a hard-fought campaign to decide the fate of the fledgling gambling industry in Massachusetts.


More than any other factor, votes in cities and towns in 2013 shaped the casino competition landscape for the burgeoning gaming industry in Massachusetts

In writing the Massachusetts gaming law in 2011 legislators and Governor Deval Patrick insisted that local control be paramount in determining where the state’s first casinos would be built. A successful outcome in a local referendum is a prerequisite for advancing in the state’s lengthy licensing process.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

A veritable"who's who" of leaders of Capital Region arts non-profits gathered in a show of solidarity under the moniker "Upstate Theaters for a Fair Game." The group hopes to educate the public on what it sees as potential negative effects of casino expansion on what it refers to as "local entertainment ecosystems," noting that mid-sized arts and entertainment venues in neighboring states have been impacted by casino-based entertainment offerings.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Members of the public met with elected officials and people on both sides of New York’s casino gambling amendment at a community forum Monday night in Saratoga Springs. 

The push for passage of a ballot amendment to allow up to seven new gambling casinos in New York has begun. A coalition of business leaders, labor unions, and local elected officials are holding press conferences across the state. They expect to run some TV ads, as well.

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority

The focus of the casino competition in western Massachusetts is now squarely on Palmer. People on both sides of the casino issue in the rural town are gearing up for a referendum with an eye toward what happened with Hard Rock’s casino project last week in West Springfield.

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority

The Town Council in Palmer, Massachusetts has endorsed a casino development agreement with Mohegan Sun.  The Connecticut-based casino operator is proposing a $1 billion development in the rural town.  It is one of three projects competing for the lone casino license available in western Massachusetts. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Town Councilor Paul Burns, who has been a long-time supporter of a casino project in Palmer.