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This past Tuesday, voters in West Springfield rejected the bid by Hard Rock New England to build a casino resort by the Eastern State Exposition grounds.
City residents said “no” to casino gambling by a 55 to 45 percent vote after Hard Rock spent nearly a million dollars marketing their plan. The opposition, in contrast, was reported to have spent under $2,000 in their effort to oppose it. (That figure may turn out to be much more, as the final few days’ expenditure figures were not available.)
Pro-casino people were understandably miffed by the result even as the anti-casino lobby celebrated their victory. “This is the city of ‘no!’ They vote against everything and are completely afraid of change,” said Virginia Reardon in a Republican story reporting on the vote. While casino opponent Kate Sady said, “I’m thrilled. This is monumental.”
Indeed it is. It makes the casino vote in Palmer the pivotal vote in the region, as that town’s own casino developer, Mohegan Sun, has promised to bring a 150-acre-plus resort to that area — far outsizing anything MGM Resorts has promised in downtown Springfield.
As I read Robert Rizzuto’s story in the Republican, I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the anti-casino lobby being headed up by Nathan Bech, a Republican who challenged the now-retired John Olver for his Congressional seat back in 2008, while Hard Rock’s campaign manager, Kate Crowther, hailed from liberal Northampton. (Are there any Republicans at all in NoHo?)
So much for local Republicans kissing corporate butts.