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Both Sides of Casino Debate Prepare to Campaign for Votes

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Both sides in the casino debate in Massachusetts are gearing up for a hard fought campaign through election day when voters will decide the fate of gaming in the Bay State.

The latest side to be heard is the pro-casino group, which is working to get out their message.

Last month, the anti-casino group, Repeal the Casino Deal, came to town led by former Massachsuetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. They say casinos are not the answer for Massachusetts.

Now, their counterpart, a pro-casino group, is ready to deliver its message to the voters of Massachusetts.

MGM’s plans to build an $800 million casino in Springfield’s South End have hit a roadblock. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the question of gaming be out on the ballot for the voters to decide, even after the legislature passed a gaming bill that called for three casinos to be built in Massachusetts, including one in western Massachusetts.

The new pro-casino group called The Committee to Protect Massachusetts Jobs is also known as the Vote No on Question 3 campaign.

Question 3 calls for repealing the state’s gaming law.

The group is composed of labor unions, business, community and political leaders.

The Spirit of Springfield’s Judy Matt and the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce’s Jeff Ciuffreda are among its members. Their battle cry is jobs and additional revenue for the city.

“We’re going to play whatever role we can, going out speaking to different groups, letters to the editor because we’ve done a lot of work on what we feel is the economic gain for the greater Springfield area,” Ciuffreda says.

Matt adds, “I’m going to be willing to do all I can to help the cause. We need jobs in our city. There are so many people out of work, check with any of the local labor unions and they’ll tell you, we need good jobs and that’s what this will deliver.”

Pro-casino forces say they’re disappointed that the Supreme Judicial Court put the question on the ballot and now they have to convince voters across the state that casinos would be good for Massachusetts.

“It’s disappointing because right now, people could be at work. There could be shovels in the ground here in Springfield and those 3,000 jobs are so needed here,” Matt says.

Right now, the group is not sayimg much about where it’s funding is coming from. A check with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance indicated that the group will be filing a report on its finances sometime next month.

Meanwhile, the anti-casino group called Repeal the Casino Deal is continuing its work saying that if casinos come to Massachusetts only a few select will get rich and everyone else will pay the price.

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