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Report: Holyoke Mayor to Now Back Casino in His City

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) – After steadfastly opposing the idea of a casino in Holyoke, that city’s mayor is now supporting a plan to bring one to the Paper City.

A report Saturday in the Boston Globe and boston.com says that Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse is set to announce Monday his support for a plan that would bring a casino to Mountain Park, off Route 5.

Mountain Park, once home to an amusement park which now is an outdoor summer concert venue, is owned by Eric Suher, the head of the Iron Horse Entertainment Group.

Suher, the Globe adds, is partnering with Len and Mark Wolman, top executives at the Waterford Group in Connecticut on the proposed project.

Morse tells the paper that he is concerned Holyoke could suffer a business loss to Springfield if a casino is developed there and, “I think we’re all realizing that casinos are coming to Western Mass., and Holyoke cannot sit on the sidelines.”

Morse’s support would be seen as a reversal from his previous position as a candidate and in his early days as Mayor of the city.

A local development group, Paper City Development, had formed last year and was in talks with Hard Rock International to bring a possible casino to the site of the Wyckoff Country Club off Route 141.

In November 2011, shortly after being elected as Mayor, Morse told ABC40’s Ray Hershel, “As mayor I will stand up for the values I stood up for throughout this campaign, and that is I do not want a casino in the city of Holyoke.”

After the state legislature passed the casino gaming bill about a week after the election, Morse told ABC40 he would not be lobbying for a casino in Holyoke, and that he would rather see other innovative industries come to the city.

“Casino coming to Holyoke is not my priority. I just finished a meeting with some entrepreneurs who are interested in bringing technology to the city. That’s the type of economy I want to focus on. We still have a long way to go,” Morse noted on November 15, 2011.

Because of the opposition, Paper City Development dropped their plans for the Holyoke casino, and Hard Rock International directed their efforts to bring a casino to Massachusetts elsewhere.

The Globe reports that Hard Rock has been tied to a possible casino plan in Everett.

Any developer interested in building in Massachusetts must submit their proposals with their $400,000 application fee to the state no later than January 15, 2013.

Regardless of what proposal may be on the table, the final say of any casino will rest on the residents of a particular city and town. A referendum vote must be passed by the voters before a license would be granted from the Mass. Gaming Commmision.

ABC40 will have the latest on this story as becomes available, on-air and online.


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