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Holyoke Mayor Reverses Casino Stand, Again

BOSTON — Holyoke’s mayor has reversed course again and is now halting all casino development plans in the western Massachusetts city.

Alex Morse said in a statement (PDF) on Thursday that he regrets his earlier change to consider negotiations with developers interested in bringing a casino to Holyoke.

Morse defeated an incumbent mayor in 2011 after running on a strong anti-casino platform. But he stunned backers last month when he announced a new “strategy” to entertain casino proposals. He cited the possible impact on Holyoke of a casino in nearby Springfield.

Morse said in his statement Thursday that while a casino might be coming to the region, “it will not be coming here.” He said:

Late last month, I announced a change in my strategy to address the reality of a casino coming to our region. Since that announcement, I have come to recognize the flaws of such strategy. It has become increasingly clear that pursuing this conversation will only be a distraction from my administration’s broader economic goals, and I regret not realizing this fact sooner.

The mayor also said he would return $25,000 “grants” paid to the city by two potential developers who sought to have their proposals reviewed.

In his statement, the 23-year-old added:

Ultimately, I hope to build on this humbling moment and to become a better mayor as a result. We still have much work before us, and I am grateful that by listening, and with your support, I am now back on track.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

Earlier:

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