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.

This November, voters will get a chance to decide whether to expand gambling in upstate New York. But because of a quirk in the election calendar, it’s likely that downstate voters will be the ones to make that decision.

Some members of the faith-based community in western Massachusetts are starting to talk about ways to help people whom they believe will be harmed when a casino opens. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is on track to award a casino license to one of three competitors in the region by April 2014. A casino could open in 2016.    WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Bishop Douglas Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.


The campaign to convince voters in West  Springfield ,Massachusetts to ratify a development deal  for a resort casino was formally launched Tuesday evening.  Officials with Hard Rock Hotels and Casino hosted about 50 people for a cook-out at its newly opened campaign headquarters for the September 10th referendum.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland about the pro-casino campaign.

Hard Rock has begun the campaign to convince voters in West Springfield, Massachusetts to endorse the company’s plan for a resort casino. It will be the second western Massachusetts casino project to face a make or break referendum.

       Hard Rock officials will host a public grand opening Tuesday for the campaign headquarters for the September 10th casino referendum.  The event will mark the formal launch of the “West Side Yes” pro-casino campaign. 

West Springfield Expected To Set Casino Vote Soon

Jul 22, 2013

The town council in West Springfield, Massachusetts has scheduled a meeting to set a date for a voter referendum on the casino development deal proposed by Hard Rock International.

The President of Hard Rock New England said he'll ask the council when it meets on Tuesday to schedule the referendum for Sept. 10, before the start of the Big E expo the following weekend.

Hard Rock wants to build an $800 million resort casino on part of the Eastern States Exhibition fairgrounds.

Springfield voters last week approved a casino development deal with MGM Resorts.

MGM Springfield

MGM Resorts International has cleared a major hurdle in the competition to build a casino in western Massachusetts. Voters in Springfield, in a citywide referendum Tuesday, endorsed the company’s plan for an $800 million project in the south end of the city’s downtown.

       MGM officials declared a landslide victory after unofficial results from the Springfield election department showed the citywide referendum passed by 58 percent “yes” to 42 percent “no.”  Just under twenty-five percent of the city’s registered voters went to the polls.


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.


Clergy in western Massachusetts vow to spread an anti-casino message in advance of next Tuesday’s  voter referendum in Springfield on MGM Resorts’ $800 million project. The casino operator on Monday promoted  opportunities for minority and women owned businesses.

       Pastors representing the Council of Churches of Western Massachusetts announced plans at a Monday news conference to hold an anti-casino rally, stage  leaflet drops, publish a position paper and have people stand in front of dozens of churches this weekend holding signs urging a “no” vote next Tuesday.


Opponents of casino gambling rallied supporters in Springfield, Massachusetts last night where a citywide referendum on MGM Resorts’ $800 million casino development is less than three weeks away.

      A crowd of about 300 people sat in the sweltering hot sanctuary of Christ Church Cathedral and applauded as speakers denounced what they said were the false promises of the gambling industry.

A group working to defeat next month’s casino referendum in Springfield Massachusetts is holding a campaign kickoff event this Wednesday.  One of the scheduled speakers is Robert Steele. He is a former Congressman from Connecticut who witnessed the growth of casino gambling in Connecticut in the 1990s. He is the author of the novel, The Curse: Big-time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town.

MGM Springfield

City officials in Springfield, Massachusetts have begun a voter education campaign in advance of the July 16th referendum on the casino project proposed by MGM Resorts.  Supporters of a  rival casino project in western Massachusetts are also gearing up for a referendum campaign, although no date has been set for the vote in Palmer.

There will be no casino referendum in Springfield on June 25th , the same day voters  head to the polls in Massachusetts for the special Senate election.

Officials in Springfield Massachusetts are hoping to wrap up negotiations with would-be casino developers in time for a voter  referendum to coincide with the June 25 special election for US Senate. City officials are also considering how to spend the financial windfall they hope a casino brings.


City Councilor James Ferrera, who assured the council a place at the center of the casino debate last year by creating a casino site committee, was re-elected by his colleagues to a rare second consecutive one year term as council president.  Ferrera predicted the casino issue would top the council’s agenda in 2013.

The state law that legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts requires voters in a host community to approve the casino development in a referendum.  The law permits cities , such as Springfield, to hold either an at-large  vote or limit it to just the ward where the casino would be built.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.


       Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is adamant the voter referendum on whether there should be a casino built in Springfield will be held city-wide.