SJC Allows Casino Question on State Ballot in November

The statewide group that is trying to repeal the Massachusetts expanded gaming legislation scored a major victory Tuesday when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of allowing a casino repeal referendum question on November’s statewide ballot. The ruling will allow people in Massachusetts the right to vote on repealing the casino law and signaling the start of a new stage in the casino repeal campaign.

“While this ruling marks a huge hurdle now cleared, it’s also the firing of the starting gun in this incredibly important campaign,” casino repeal chairman John Ribeiro said. “We know Massachusetts can do better than this casino mess. We’re elated at the opportunity to continue sharing the truth about casinos and the harm they would bring to our communities. Now’s the time to dig our heels in and spread our message.”

In Charlestown, Mayor Martin Walsh and City Councilor Sal LaMattina have argued that the neighborhood’s proximity to the Wynn Everett Casino should give Boston host community status. This would have allowed Charlestown residents to vote on the casino issue.

Residents have also argued that a Everett casino would have an adverse impact on the Rutherford Avenue corridor as well as Sullivan Square.

In a statement released by the Mayor’s Office, Walsh said, “I’m very pleased that the Supreme Judicial Court has given the people of East Boston and Charlestown the right to vote, which the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have failed to do so. The most important piece of this process is ensuring that our residents have their voices heard. Now it is up to the voters of Massachusetts to decide whether or not we allow gaming in the Commonwealth.”

However, Walsh cautioned that the SJC’s ruling would not impact negotiations between the city and the developers of the Wynn and Mohegan Sun casinos. Last week the city was granted an extension by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to ink a surrounding community agreement with the two entities.

“The decision today, while valuable, does not impact our current negotiations, and our deadlines remain in place,” said Walsh. “We continue to negotiate in good faith under the timeline imposed by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”

City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he supports Tuesday’s ruling. LaMattina, who represents two Boston neighborhood’s that could potentially end up with a casino next door, said he’s curious how the people of Charlestown and Eastie (for a second time) will vote in a statewide referendum.

“I think the Massachusetts Gaming Commission should not issue any licenses until a statewide vote is completed,” said LaMattina. “Then, the MGC should really look at how my district voted and see if it is wise to place a casino next to where people will be impacted.”

LaMattina added that while he and the Mayor argued for host community status unsuccessfully, the two, “still feel that the people of East Boston and Charlestown will be impacted by a Revere and Everett casino so their voices should be heard. Now their voices will be heard during a statewide ballot question.”

Wynn representatives said they would not comment on the SJC’s ruling.

In a release to the Charlestown Patriot Bridge the Repeal the Casino Deal group said with the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling made in their favor, and all of the signature to solidify a spot on the ballot submitted, activists will now turn their attention toward voters, campaigning for their vote to repeal the casino law

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