PLAINVILLE (CBS) – A big step forward today for the first slots parlor in Massachusetts, despite the possibility that voters could stop it cold. It also marks the beginning of a battle for your vote.
With “God Bless America” playing in the background, construction workers attached the final steel beam to the shell of the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. The projected completion date for the $225-million project is next June. The facility will have over a thousand slot machines, video poker and video blackjack terminals.
But a question on the November ballot could repeal the state’s casino law, leaving the slot parlor a loser. “We obviously would have to stop building, but right now we’re focused on campaigning,” says Jay Snowden of Penn National Gaming, the company building the slot parlor. And they kicked off the “Vote No” campaign today. “We believe that hope and opportunity are going to defeat fear and negativity,” says Eric Schippers also of Penn National.
“I think it begins with jobs. It’s very real. You see over 200 construction workers out here today,” adds Snowden.
Casino advocates say if all four casino projects are built in the state, 10,000 permanent jobs would be created. But repeal backers don’t buy it. “The jobs argument just doesn’t hold water,” says John Ribeiro who heads Repeal The Casino Deal, the anti-casino forces responsible for the ballot question. “What you see around the country is for every slot machine added into an economy, one job is lost per year. That’s because money that’s already being spent on Main St. is instead being spent in the casino,” he says.
Of course the pro-casino forces say that’s not accurate. Casino supporters also say they want to capture all the money Massachusetts residents spend in out of state casinos.
Consider these the opening shots in the run-up to November, with a lot more to come.
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