Massachusetts Supreme Court: Voters Can Repeal Gaming Law

Nearly three years after Gov. Deval Patrick signed it, opponents are still fighting the law that legalized casinos in Massachusetts - and they just received a major victory thanks to the state's Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled yesterday that a casino repeal measure can be put before voters in November.

According to The Boston Globe, 41 percent of likely voters favor repealing the Bay State's 2011 gambling bill, which allows up to three casino resorts in three different regions of the state: one in western Massachusetts, where MGM Resorts International has just been granted the state's first casino license for a resort in Springfield; one in southeastern Massachusetts, encompassing Plymouth and Cape Cod; and one in the Boston area. Just 52 percent favor keeping the bill.

Amid growing opposition, rivals attempted last year to put a measure on the ballot repealing the gambling law. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, however, ruled that the repeal measure was unconstitutional because it would illegally strip casino developers of their contract rights without compensation. Opponents subsequently sued, leading to the court's unanimous decision yesterday, which stated, "We conclude that . . . the Legislature and, through initiative, the voters of Massachusetts may choose to abolish casino and slot parlor gambling and parimutuel wagering on simulcast greyhound racing, and doing so would not constitute a taking of property without compensation."

The court's ruling means Massachusetts voters in the coming months will face an onslaught of campaign ads for and against legalized gambling.

Reports the Globe, "As always, money will play a large role in the campaign, and casino backers probably will outspend opponents. But in this case money alone may not guarantee a victory."