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Pro-Casino Group Ramping Up Campaign Spending

A casino-financed group seeking to defeat a November ballot question to repeal the state's expanded gambling law is ramping up its campaign spending.

The Coalition to Protect Massachusetts Jobs spent $702,000 from Sept. 1-15, according to the group's most recent campaign finance filing. That's up from the $577,000 it spent in the two months from its July formation to the end of August.

The political advocacy group is financed largely by Penn National Gaming, which won the state's lone slot parlor license and is building a $225 million development at the harness racing track in Plainville. MGM Resorts International, which won a resort casino license for its $800 million development in Springfield, also has been a major donor, as have a number of local labor unions.

If approved, the ballot question would effectively halt any casino developments from opening by repealing a 2011 law that allowed for the licensing of up to three resort casinos and one slot parlor in the state.

Meanwhile, Repeal the Casino Deal, the anti-casino group that is pushing for repeal, spent $50,000 in the same two-week reporting period. It raised about $36,000, leaving it with about $10,675 cash on hand. The largest donation - $25,000 - came from Linda Sallop, president and CEO of the Atlantic Charter Insurance Company.

By comparison, the pro-casino group had $506,429 left in its coffers at the end of the reporting period after receiving just one donation: $500 from the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. The group did, however, receive non-cash, in-kind donations from the two casino companies. MGM Resorts reported $14,100 for providing rental space to the group, and Penn National Gaming reported $4,441 for providing some of its paid staff to the campaign.

Among the expenses the Coalition to Protect Massachusetts Jobs reported was nearly $190,000 to purchase airtime on local television stations for campaign commercials. It also spent nearly $90,000 on media production from GMMB Inc., a Washington D.C.-based advertising and media company that played a prominent role in Barack Obama's 2008 successful presidential run and his re-election campaign in 2012.

Much of the pro-casino group's other spending in the two-week period went to its stable of consultants and campaign advisers, including the DCI Group, of Washington, D.C. ($43,772); Martilla Strategies, of Boston ($25,000); Campaign Industries, of Illinois ($22,816); O'Sullivan & Associates, of Boston ($20,000) and Kiley & Company, of Boston ($18,750).

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