By Jon Keller, WBZ Political Analyst

BOSTON (CBS) — Any day now, the state Supreme Judicial Court will issue its ruling on the legality of the initiative petition to stop casinos from coming to Massachusetts. And whichever way they rule, better buckle your seat belt.

Listen to Jon’s commentary



A decision to let the ballot question go forward over the attorney general’s objections will unleash a political battle that could dominate this election year, with plenty of TV ads, spin and hand-to-hand combat. And judging from the latest Suffolk University poll, it’s going to be tough sledding for the big casino operators who once drooled at the prospect of tapping into our gambling-happy culture.

According to the Suffolk survey, support for casinos here has collapsed just since February, when voters said they approved of them by a 51 to 37% margin.

Now, it’s 47% against and only 37% for casinos, with an eight percent bump in the number who disapprove of a Boston-area facility.

What is changing public opinion on this so rapidly?

Two high-profile local votes on the subject put the argument in sharp relief, and featured outspoken opposition by religious leaders and working-class people. But there was nothing we hadn’t heard before.

The casino big-wigs aren’t always the best advocates for their cause, but skepticism of corporate sweet talk is nothing new around here either.

I can’t prove it, but I suspect what’s happened is pretty simple and rational.

The local economy has improved.

We no longer see ourselves stuck in a ditch where casinos are the only way out. And so the obvious downsides of the casino business have begun to outweigh the benefits.

After all, why bet on long odds, when there’s a better bet available, even without the free drinks?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.




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