South End community reacts to casino vote - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

South End community reacts to casino vote

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Applause from the audience and a standing ovation was the reaction from the crowd this morning after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to make Springfield one step closer to a resort casino located in the South End.

But south of State Street, the overall reaction from business owners seemed to be, "well, it can't hurt."

"There's nobody down here now anyways, I mean we do OK here but there's nobody downtown, so if you're injecting a bunch of people downtown, it's either not going to affect us or have a positive effect," said Robbie Gossman, McCaffery's Public House manager.

Gossman believes downtown is as bad as it gets. And, as long as there's more foot traffic, he doesn't see a negative impact from the casino on the restaurant and bar industry. 

But Alex Grant, who is part of the "No Casino Springfield" movement, said he's heard that argument before. 

"I don't buy it, it's an argument about desperation. It's almost like, we're at the end of the road, we have no ideas left so we'll just try anything. I don't think Springfield is at the end of its road. I think there's something besides a casino that can make Springfield a peaceful attractive place to live," said Grant.

Buckeye Brothers smoke shop owner David Glantz is on the edge of where the casino intends to be built. He said if he had to, he would sacrifice his business for the sake of a better city, but he doesn't believe it would come to that. He's excited to see an area that's been devastated by natural disasters, pick back up again.

"That's what we're looking forward to. The gambling is just another plus that's on the side, but the entertainment, the dining, the restaurants and the influx of new people coming in - economically viable people coming into downtown Springfield - that's what we need in Springfield," said Glantz. 

Another business owner right across the street from the casino's footprint said the casino will be positive for the area, but has mixed feelings about how it will affect his business downtown. 

"I love competition. Competition is good for me, and when they go to their stuff and see mine, guess what, they'll come here," said Khalid Ansari, owner of Levene's clothing store. 

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