The casino industry used the economic downturn to push its way into a number of states where lawmakers are desperate to generate new tax revenue and create jobs despite the long-term costs of gambling. Now, there are signs that taxpayers are pushing back against the casino creep.
In Massachusetts, residents have collected enough signatures to call for a vote to repeal the 2011 casino law. This clears a major hurdle in the effort to stop the spread of casinos in Massachusetts, but repeal supporters still have to convince the state’s highest court to overturn an earlier ruling by Attorney General Martha Coakley that the proposed question is unconstitutional.
Scott Harshbarger, the state’s former attorney general, is helping to lead the fight. More amazing, the three lawmakers who drove the casino effort – Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray – have each said they do not want a casino in their respective hometowns. What does that say about the industry?
At the very least, the grassroots effort has placed casinos among the top issues in the race for governor in Massachusetts. Several candidates have said they are opposed to casinos. Meanwhile, casino opponents are gearing up for another fight to stop the spread of casinos in New Hampshire. Check out Casino Free New Hampshire’s 30 reasons to oppose casinos.
A group in Florida, that is funded in part by Disney, is continuing to fight the effort to legalize commercial casinos in the Sunshine state. Polls show residents are evenly divided on the issue. Former state lawmaker Paula Dockery provides an overview of the political landscape in Florida here.