Mass. court OKs casino-law repeal question for Nov. ballot

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that opponents of the 2011 law allowing casinos in the state may put a question on the November ballot to decide whether the law should be repealed, Boston.com reported. More

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Mass. court OKs casino-law repeal question for Nov. ballot

Posted 6/24/14

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that opponents of the 2011 law allowing casinos in the state may put a question on the November ballot to decide whether the law should be repealed, Boston.com reported.

The ruling overturned a previous decision by Attorney General Martha Coakley, who had found that such a ballot question would be unconstitutional because it would cause casino developers to lose their property without compensation.

Coakley issued a statement following the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling, saying that while her office conducted a legal review of the ballot question, she “knew it would ultimately be decided by the court” and “with today’s decision, voters will have the final say.”

The 2011 law permits three casinos and one slots-parlor in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on June 13 voted to award the western Massachusetts casino license to MGM Resorts International’s proposed $800 million casino in Springfield, while the planned Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Mass., holds the slots-parlor license.

The other two casino licenses have yet to be awarded.

The outcome of a November ballot question on the repeal of Massachusetts’ gambling law could affect Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island’s largest casino, which faces direct competition from the Plainridge slots parlor, as well as Newport Grand, which has potential competition from casino proposals in Fall River and Taunton.

In the final fiscal 2015 budget, the R.I. General Assembly approved $1.1 million from the state’s share of video-lottery terminal income to boost marketing efforts at Twin River in response to increased competition. In addition, the legislature approved a bill that would allow the voters of the state to allow Newport’s slots parlor, Newport Grand, to add table games, effectively making it a full-service casino.

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