'Repeal The Casino Deal' Chair Says Side Has More Support Than Polls Show

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John Ribeiro, chair of the Repeal the Casino Deal, the group at the forefront of the anti-casino fight, joined WBUR's Morning Edition to discuss his group's initiatives as it gets closer to referendum day.

Bob Oakes: You knew the commission would pick one of these choices. What's your reaction to the choice to go to Everett and not Revere?

John Ribeiro: The gaming commission had a third option. They could have handed out zero licenses yesterday, and I feel that they were negligent in not doing that. I mean, both of these were bad options. We should have held off in giving out any licenses, at least until after the Nov. 4 ballot initiative to repeal the law.

How does the decision affect your campaign to repeal the law that permits casinos?

Well we expected there would probably be additional folks who might come out in support of us. Certainly the folks in Charlestown who haven't had their voices heard, who are extremely opposed to this development over in Everett are going to be with us. And a lot of folks north of the Everett area are also going to be impacted, especially when you consider the traffic coming down 93.

It sounds like what you're saying is that the concerns about traffic in both Revere and Charlestown, where a lot of residents this morning are hopping mad, can be mined from your point of view to find out if there is opposition to casinos there that you didn't know previously existed.

Sure, what we find oftentimes is that concerns like traffic are sometimes the initial things that bring people to our side of things. People find more even more reasons to be against casinos and wanting to repeal the law.

Let me ask you a question on the flip side: After all the work that the casino developers have done up to this point, including Steve Wynn, who won the Everett bid, how fair is it to undo the casino law.

Well, we've been working to undo the law since before it was passed. They knew this was coming. This has been in the works since 2010. And, the casino developers know that this law could change at any time. In fact, that was the basis for the SJC's decision to allow us on the ballot.

You know you're going to be vastly outspent by casino supporters. How are you going to combat that?

We've been outspent before. If you look at towns like Palmer and Milford and East Boston, sometimes we were outspent by more than 100 to 1. And their message doesn't hold water. In fact, they're not even going to talk about casinos. They're going to focus on the slim number of jobs they're going to create across the state, and that number keeps diminishing.

But the polls right now show your side losing, showing people across the state want the casino instead of going to your side to repeal the casino law.

Those polls are state-wide, and they're an average across the state looking at whose going to be voting for governor. It doesn't really take into account those folks that are in proximity to casinos or previous casino sites. You have to remember there were over a dozen casino proposals that were shot down across the state in places like Foxborough and Tewksbury and Danvers and Boxborough.

So you're saying there is more support for your side than these polls show?

I believe there is; that's held true in most cases of the fights that have happened over the past year in a half or so across the state.

This segment aired on September 17, 2014.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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