SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The MGM casino project planned for Springfield will be put before voters in mid-July.
The Springfield City Council voted unanimously tonight in favor of a Special Warrant for the Casino Ballot Question to be held on July 16.
That’s according to our crew who went to the city council meeting.
ABC40 spoke with City Council President, James Ferrera and he says, “Any time you have a special election, there is a concern on voter participation, and obviously, as residents here in the city of Springfield, summertime is a busy time, with people going on vacations, very busy time for individuals getting out to the polls. So it’s critically important to ensure and educate the voters when it is time to vote.”
Now, the Springfield-based Citizens Against Casino Gaming today filed a formal public records request seeking all information surrounding the date of the referendum vote.
The group sent a letter to City Solicitor Edward Pikula, referencing M.G.L. c. 66 ,§10(a), (b) which governs the release of public records.
Michael Kogut with the Citizens Against Casino Gaming group says, ”Despite the claim of transparency, the city has been painfully silent in keeping the residents informed about how the placement of the casino referendum was discussed and who the influential decision makers, both inside and outside city hall, were involved. While the mayor negotiated with MGM Resorts International for the host agreement, he offered the voters little time to review, digest and make informed decisions before the July 16, 2013 vote. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has indicated that it is not expected to select a Western Massachusetts casino developer until early in 2014. So, what’s the rush?”
The citizens based group had previously asked both the mayor and the city council to place the casino referendum on the ballot for the municipal election in November.
On May 14 MGM asked the city of Springfield that a binding referendum question be up for vote specifically on July 16 because they were fuelling another requirement towards a possible casino license.
The city council unanimously approved the host agreement between MGM and the City on May 10.
If Springfield voters approve the project on July 16, MGM’s proposal then goes on to the Mass. Gaming Commission, where the Commission will decide which company may be awarded the one casino license allocated for Western Massachusetts.
Two other companies are also looking to be awarded that license, including Hard Rock for a possible project in West Springfield and Mohegan Sun, which would like to build a casino off the Mass. Pike in Palmer.