Casino Proposal Upsets Neighbors
State political leaders have reached an agreement on casino legislation, which is expected to go before the full legislature soon. Some neighbors, in Hopkinton, are opposed.
Editor's Note: The following story appeared first on Hopkinton Patch. Hopkinton selectmen have held the first of several planned public hearings on the proposed casino gambling bill. According to reports in The Boston Globe, the governor and leaders of the state House and Senate have agreed to terms of a gaming bill that would authorize up to three Vegas-style casinos in Massachusetts, including one for the region that includes Worcester east to Boston. A developer hopes to submit a proposal for a Milford casino off Interstate 495, to be accessed by a new exit, if the legislation is approved.
The crowd was small, but the opinions from those who attended were large.
The 15 or so in attendance as well as all five selectmen are firmly against an expanded gaming bill that could potentially bring a casino to Milford. There was not one voice in the room in favor of the bill's passage.
"I have been oppossed to casino gambling for years," Selectman Brian Herr said. "This hasn't and won't change."
Selectman Benjamin Palleiko is also firmly opposed noting that he has three main reasons for his feelings, but one that sticks out.
"The bill is proposed as a way to create jobs," Palleiko said. "That is not the case. This is all about money and the state making more of it. I am terribly troubled that this seems to be a fait accompli and there is no iron clad protection for us and towns like us."
Representative, Carolyn Dykema noted that 81 votes are needed for this bill to pass the house. She believes today, that is the case.
"I will vote against it," Dykema said. "But I believe there are 81, if not more than 81 who will vote in favor. My focus is on making sure that our concerns around mitigation are heard by the licensing board."
Former Chairman of the Selectmen RJ Dourney said that as a local business owner he will organize a group and make a lot of noise against this.
"We will have all of the down side and none of the up side," Dourney said. "Our pride of community will be eroded. We must protect ourselves from the surrounding communities. If East Boston wants gaming, let them have it. We are not going to be quiet neighbors."
Nancy Barron agrees.
"I think gambling destroys lives,' Barron said. "I thought Las Vegas was horrible and I see no good coming of this. I will fight it, but if it comes to pass, I will put my house on the market and leave. No good can come of this, no good at all."
Mary Murphy, owner of Hooray for Books is also strongly opposed.
"We are better than that,"Murphy said. "I am extremely distressed that this seems to be a done deal. We are better than a casino. Go back, Carolyn and be the voice of reason."
If the bill does pass the next step will be for it to go to the governor for a signature. From there a licensing board will be formed and they will be the ones to hear community concerns.
"I will be very vocal with the licensing board as they are the ones who will hear us," Dykema said.
Many are astounded that we have come from the Massachusetts miracle to this.
"There is no value socially, economically or culturally," Chairman of the Selectmen Todd Cestari said. "We seem to have come to a period where we are not making anything. We produce less and this is another example of jumpstarting the economy without a tangible good. I also feel this is another tax on the poor, as it is not the rich who are in the casinos gambling."
Dymeka strongly encouraged all in attendance and in the community to reach out to their legislatures and tell them how opposed they are to this bill's passage.
"There is a lot of public support for this bill," Dykema said. "You need to use your voice to reach out to your friends and your networks."
The selectmen are expected to hold other forums on this topic in the coming weeks.