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Casino Opponents To Seek Ballot Repeal In 2014

With gaming regulators expecting to award the first casino licenses in Massachusetts early next year, opponents of expanded gambling announced Wednesday that they would seek to put a question on the 2014 November ballot essentially repealing the 2011 law that cleared the way for expanded gambling.

John Ribeiro, an anti-casino activist from Winthrop behind the Repeal the Casino Deal group, filed a petition Wednesday with the attorney general to start the initiative petition process and block casino gambling in Massachusetts. The question would essentially gut the 2011 law by making the types of gambling relied on by casinos to lure customers and make money illegal in Massachusetts.

“I think the calculations have changed and they’ve actually tipped in our favor because when you look around the state and the number of people who will be impacted, you now have more people aware of the problems associated with casino gambling,” Ribeiro said.

Ribeiro and casino opponents have tried to block casinos from opening in Massachusetts in the past, pursuing a referendum initiative in 2011 that would have allowed voters to repeal the expanded gaming law during the 2012 elections.

Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled that question ineligible for the ballot because appropriations are not subject to the citizen petition process, and the gaming law included monetary appropriations. This year, opponents are pursuing a different track.

“The last time we knew it was a long shot because of the poison pills the Legislature put into the bill. This time we don’t face any such hurdles,” Ribeiro said.

Voters in places like Taunton, Springfield and Everett have embraced the idea of local casinos through votes on different casino developments competing for the three licenses, but some of those votes have been close, while other communities have rejected expanded gambling.

The petition filed Wednesday was signed by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, former state Sen. Susan Tucker, Massachusetts Family Institute President Kris Mineau, Kathleen Conley Norbut, the president of United to Stop Slots, and others.

This program aired on August 7, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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