Gaming commission addresses possible repeal of casino law - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Gaming commission addresses possible repeal of casino law

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is closing in on deadlines to hand out casino licenses.

All the while, there is work being done to repeal the state's casino law.

Thursday, the gaming commission addressed that topic.

If allowed, the repeal would not be on the ballot until November. That is months after licenses are handed out and construction likely underway.

The gaming commission told CBS 3 they cannot answer hypothetical scenarios yet, but they are monitoring the issue closely.

"We're all aware of the fact that it's out there," said Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner James McHugh. 

The state's casino law was passed in November of 2011, allowing for one slots parlor and three resort-style casinos across the Bay State.

While the commission voted on Thursday to adopt emergency regulations for assessing costs and license fees, McHugh said they really have to take a wait and see approach.

"We may need help from others, but at the moment this is as far as we can go," McHugh stated. "We need to keep this process online, moving forward, while other things of which we have no control sort themselves out."

"Repeal the Casino Deal" is a group that collected around 70,000 signatures and has brought their case to the state's Supreme Court.

Attorney General Martha Coakley initially ruled their petition unconstitutional, as the businesses would have their licenses from the gaming commission by the time the vote takes place.

Steven Abdow, a member of the group's leadership team, said the state already voted to take away dog racing in 2008, when that industry had been established for years.

"How could mere applicants for a license be able to prevent a vote if the court found that previously," asked Abdow.

Abdow believes a recent Suffolk University poll proves his side has a real fighting chance if they are allowed on the ballot.

"Only 51 percent of likely voters approve of this legislation," said Abdow. "That is without any money being spent to educate people about the concerns of casinos in Massachusetts."

As of now, the commission plans on awarding its slots parlor license on Feb. 28.

The resort-casino licenses will likely be awarded by May of this year.

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