WBUR

Holyoke Mayor Defends About-Face On Casinos

BOSTON — Alex Morse made national headlines a year ago when he was elected mayor of Holyoke at age 22, and he ran on a pledge to oppose any efforts to bring a casino to his beleaguered city.

But now Morse has done an about-face: He says he’s “considering” a casino proposal from a local businessman who wants to build a gambling resort at Mountain Park on Mount Tom.

As casino opponents jeered and interrupted him at a Monday news conference, Morse had this to say to reporters and local residents: “My intent today is to inform the people of Holyoke of my shift in strategy before any advanced discussions or negotiations take place, so that everyone in the city may voice their ideas, concerns and suggestions.”

WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with Mayor Morse, who said he believes “casinos do have a negative net impact on regions and communities,” but now that gaming legislation has been passed in Massachusetts — it wasn’t yet state law when he was elected — “I couldn’t use my personal opposition to casino gambling from preventing the people who live in the city of Holyoke” from considering casino proposals for their city.

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