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Holyoke Mayor: City is ‘Shifting Strategies’ with Casino Talks

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) – Citing Monday’s press conference an “act of transparency,” Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse has announced that he is now entertaining proposals for a casino in Holyoke.

Morse noted Monday morning that “we cannot pretend” that the city borders will protect the Paper City from any negative economic impact from a casino in Springfield or other parts of Western Mass.

Morse says a casino in Holyoke would not be a “saving grace” for the city’s economic and employment issues.

In the proposal presented to the city by Iron Horse Entertainment Group head Eric Suher, the casino would have a 350 room hotel, gaming space, indoor and outdoor entertainment space, restaurants, and eco-tourism.

Morse adds that in addition to Suher’s proposal, he will entertain any other proposals that may come his way.

The mayor notes that any plan for any casino in Holyoke must meet certain criteria, including urban revitalization, environmental sustainability, and the socioeconomic effects of gambling addiction.

If any plan does not meet those and other conditions, Morse adds that no deal will be done.

Monday’s announcement is seen as a reversal of Morse’s previous positions as a candidate and as Mayor, where he had spoken in opposition of a casino in Holyoke, even as recent of October 11 in a piece in Commonwealth Magazine.

The change in positions, Morse adds, is likely to spark some “lively debate” and that he is not abandoning or changing city priorities. Instead he’s “shifting strategies.”

Now, Morse says that this begins what he wants to be a “transparent process.” The city will soon release specific dates for public input.

Morse urges that “no backroom deals” have taken place.


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