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Keller @ Large: Casinos Could Dominate Campaign Season

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV Political Analyst
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(Photo Illustration by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Now that the SJC has ushered casino repeal onto the November ballot, there are more unanswered questions to mull over than choices at the roulette wheel.

Here are just a few of them.

How will the battle lines shake out?

The casino companies that have already sunk millions into the process will go all out to keep their plans alive, or will they?

In a recent interview with Commonwealth Magazine, Everett suitor Steve Wynn said it would be “inappropriate” to get involved in a referendum fight.

The driving force behind the casino law on Beacon Hill, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, is said to be dismayed at the way the Suffolk Downs-Mohegan Sun consortium have treated the Suffolk horsemen, whose economic well-being were always his motivation for backing casinos.

Gov. Deval Patrick won’t lift a finger to help.

Organized labor has their hands full with a tough governor’s race. And if there’s one lesson learned from the casino defeats in Palmer, Foxboro and East Boston, it’s that money isn’t an automatic trump card in this struggle.

Meanwhile, two anti-casino candidates, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Don Berwick and Democratic Attorney General candidate Maura Healey, have already enjoyed considerable bounce from staking out that turf.

With recent polls trending against casinos, it seems unlikely that aspiring politicians will flock to the casinos’ side.

Another question: how uncertain are voters feeling about the job market?

The erosion of support for casinos seems to parallel rising confidence in the local economy; if decent jobs are being created by other means, some seem to feel, who needs the risks that come with casinos?

And a third question: even if there are significant numbers of voters sold on the jobs and revenue casinos provide, will they be matched – or even overwhelmed – by the doubters and the so-called “moralist” vote, the folks who casually erased the local dog-racing industry in 2008?

Spin the wheel, and place your bets.

This could easily be the most fascinating part of the 2014 campaign.

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

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