Coakley: I would vote against repeal of 2011 casino law at this time


The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts has ruled that voters can decide the fate of the state's casino gambling law.
    
The court ruled Tuesday that a question calling for repeal of the 2011 law can be on the November ballot.
    
The ruling overturns Attorney General Martha Coakley's finding that the proposed ballot question is unconstitutional because it would cause casino developers to lose property without compensation.

Coakley held a news conference after the ruling came down.

"I have said that casinos is not the first place I ever would have gone for economic development...I have said at this stage, I would vote against the ballot question. That remains unchanged. I would vote against the repeal at this time," said Coakley.
    
The law allows for up to three regional resort casinos and one slots parlor in Massachusetts. The state gambling commission recently granted MGM Resorts International a license for a proposed $800 million casino in Springfield. The two remaining licenses have not yet been awarded.
    
The slots parlor license has been awarded to the Plainridge harness track in Plainville.

"I'm going to continue to discuss with voters the issues that are of importance to them," said Coakley.

A Statement from Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Steve Crosby Regarding Supreme Judicial Court Decision:

"The Massachusetts Gaming Commission respects the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court to allow the citizens of the Commonwealth to vote on the repeal of expanded gaming in November. As the Commission has demonstrated in the past, we have the flexibility to achieve progress in the licensing and regulatory process even in an atmosphere of uncertainty and we will continue to do so. Although the Commission has not taken a position on the repeal; we are committed to implementing the law as it currently exists in a manner that is participatory, transparent and fair."

Statement from Mohegan Sun:

"We believe we have the best plan to bring thousands of jobs, world class entertainment, local economic development, and increased tourism to the region and that is our focus right now. We will also join the chorus of others making the case to voters on why this law is good for workers, good for the economy, and good for the Commonwealth."

Statement from Eric Schippers, Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs, Penn National Gaming:
 
"While we are disappointed by today's decision, we remain confident that Massachusetts voters will want to protect the thousands of new jobs and the hundreds of millions in annual tax revenues that our new industry will generate, in addition to recapturing over $1 billion being wagered by Mass residents in neighboring states each year. Our fight to protect jobs and preserve this economic development opportunity for Massachusetts begins today. Construction on the Plainridge Park Casino remains full steam ahead and we continue to anticipate a June 2015 opening."

Charlie Baker statement:

"I fully support the SJC's rebuke of Attorney General Coakley's poorly reasoned position and I am happy the voters will be able to make their voices heard. It is hard to not to wonder if the Attorney General's position was shaped more by political considerations than legal merit. I continue to believe that the best way forward for gaming in Massachusetts is to start with a single casino and go from there. That view has only been reinforced by the serious concerns that have been raised about both of the projects being proposed for Eastern Massachusetts. While the current law is not ideal from my perspective, repeal would be highly disruptive and unfair to the communities that have voted for a casino and will receive significant revenue from future operations. Barring major developments to the current status of proposed gaming projects, I am opposed to repealing the current law."

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