BOSTON — Anti-gambling activists are touting a major political boost from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as their campaign to repeal the state’s casino law heads into the final stretch.
The first-term Democratic senator said Monday she’ll likely vote in favor of repealing the 2011 state law that opened the door for Las Vegas-style gambling in Massachusetts. The group Repeal the Casino Deal hailed the remarks as a “bold stand” by one of the state’s most prominent politicians. Warren has been mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2016, even though she has said repeatedly she’s not running.
“Elizabeth Warren has a record of putting consumers first and we’re pleased she is raising her voice to stand up to the casino mess,” John Ribeiro, Repeal the Casino Deal’s campaign chairman, said in a statement Tuesday.
In comments to reporters after the Greater Boston Labor Council’s Labor Day breakfast on Monday, Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor specializing in bankruptcy law, said the issue is one of economics.
“It’s a tough call to make,” she said, according to reports from the State House News Service and the Boston Herald. “People need jobs, but gambling can also be a real problem economically for a lot of people.”
As a senate candidate in 2012, Warren opposed the decision to expand the state’s gambling law to allow for up to three resort casinos and one slot parlor.
State residents will vote in November whether to end the state’s casino licensing process before the first project can even open.
So far, state gambling regulators have awarded a slot parlor license to Penn National Gaming, which is building a $225 million expansion at the harness racing track in Plainville. It also has awarded a resort casino license to MGM Resorts International for a proposed $800 million casino in downtown Springfield, pending the outcome of the November vote.
And regulators are poised to name the winner of the Boston-area casino license next week. Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts are vying for that license, with competing projects in the cities of Revere and Everett, respectively.
According to Repeal the Casino Deal, a number of candidates for statewide office have stated their support for repealing the casino law, including three gubernatorial candidates: Democrat Don Berwick, Republican Mark Fisher and independent Jeff McCormick.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III said through a spokeswoman Tuesday that he would vote `no’ on the repeal question. “His constituents in Taunton and Plainville have voiced overwhelming support for proposed sites in their communities. He continues to support those efforts,” said Emily Kaufman, Kennedy’s communications director.
Other members of the state’s congressional delegation did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.