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Residents to Vote on Casino Proposal in Palmer, Massachusetts

Brad Willis
Creative Commons

Residents in Palmer, Massachusetts will vote Tuesday on whether to support or reject a proposal by Mohegan Sun to build a $1 billion resort casino in their town. Polls show that support for the idea of a casino in Palmer continues to increase, but that does not guarantee a win for casino supporters. 

Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis for the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (casino analysis available here) , said, "The opponents of casinos tend to be much more motivated to turn out. They just seem to have a lot more passion. They see it as a moral issue. So the problem is: municipal elections, historically, have very low rates of turnout; 20 to 30 percent of the registered voters. So if those people turn out, even though they may only be 25 to 30 percent of the population, they can still carry the election."

Proponents say a casino would bring new revenue and jobs to the region. Opponents point to quality of life issues, like traffic and crime.

If Palmer approves the referendum, the competition for the western Massachusetts license will be between MGM's proposal in Springfield and Mohegan Sun's proposal in Palmer. Both companies must still pass the gaming commission's suitability test.

The western Massachusetts casino license will be awarded next spring. 

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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