Update on the Casino Repeal signature drive!
Thank you all so much for helping to collect signatures and/or signing the Repeal the Casino Deal petitions!! No Slots accounted for approximately 850 signatures.
Together more than 90,000 signatures from across the state were gathered - roughly 20,000 more than what was needed for the Nov 2014 ballot!!
But, the fight is still not over...see Casino repeal group files 90,000 signatures.
The Sentinel and Enterprise has a newspaper article on former Congressman Bob Steele's timely talk on The Curse: Big-Time Gambling's Seduction of a Small New England Town.
If you didn't hear Mr. Steele's talk on 11/4/13 and still think it's about "jobs and revenue" then please read "The Curse" and educate yourself to the reality of America's new pastime and the social dangers it poses.
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- If this was such a great deal for us, what was the big secret? The Mayor of the City of Leominster unilaterally entered into an agreement with the Cordish/PPE Casino Resort to the exclusion of our elected representatives on the City Council, and the voters and residents of Leominster, MA. The process leading up to the referendum was contrary to the core values set forth by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which is a commitment to a participatory, transparent and fair process for the licensing of expanded gaming in Massachusetts. and an environment with a free-flowing and open exchange of ideas in which all are encouraged to question and participate...
- We heard the marketing hype, now where are the facts? We were never provided studies with objective analyses or examination of consequences from recognized subject matter experts. The only information the citizens of Leominster, MA received was the Host Community Agreement and a study on 9/19/13 called Live! Casino Impact Assessment by B&S Consulting. This assessment was available to the voters 3 business days in advance of the referendum vote, obtained boilerplate verbiage, dated, and anecdotal data. The assessment did not contain traffic impact assessments for people coming from NH and surrounding towns using Routes 2, 12, 13, and 117 (the study only mentioned the intersection of Rts 117 and 190).
- Expansion already planned! Surprise, surprise! At the presentation by Cordish to the MGC on 10/7/13, we found out that PPE/Cordish recently acquired an additional 10 acre parcel on Jungle Rd. with a building on it. The plan is to accelerate their building schedule by either demolishing or reusing the existing building for their 125,000 sq ft casino. The referendum was based on the original Host Agreement of 16 acres/Special Permit with a building on that site for a Category 2 casino license. Cordish has expanded the land usage after the referendum from 16 to 26 acres, and has changed plans to locate the casino building on the new 10 acre parcel. We never got the requested impact studies from recognized independent subject matter experts re: increased traffic (Rts 12, 13, 2, 117), crime, addictions, property values prior to the referendum on the original 16 acres. Are there new impact studies that address the expansion and the original concerns? Will PPE pay more real estate taxes based the 10 acre expansion or is the City bound by the amount of taxes specified in the Host Agreement on the 16 acres? The referendum was based on the original site plan of 16 acres and now the location of the casino has moved to a new parcel - we voted on 16 not 26 acres, and a specific location. The referendum was not a mandate for expansion or moving the location of the casino.
- The Police substation is a gaming enforcement unit for the State NOT local police and is mandated by the MGC law! The police substation would be under State Police jurisdiction (not local control). So now we wonder what control, if any, the local police will have over the new police substation, which would be located on the Jungle Rd. property. What happens to offenders and drunks when they are escorted off the property? Will Leominster tax payers be absorbing these costs?
- Three times a loser and we took the bait! We were the fourth community on the selection list. Danvers, Boxborough, and Salisbury all had the good sense to refuse the Las Vegas style Live! brand slots parlor. These communities had town selectmen who were engaged in discussion and the selection process. Residents in these towns had a chance to speak. All we got was a well-funded, biased marketing campaign. See the Boston Business Journal article for details.
- How do you define "overwhelming majority"? Leominster is a small city with a population of approximately 41,300 people. By a margin of 4,901 to 3,142 (a 60-40 split) Leominster, MA voters approved the host agreement. Now look at Raynham, a small town with a population of approximately 13,000 people. By a margin of 1,822 to 290, 86% of Raynham voters approved that community's host agreement. Now THAT is an "overwhelming majority"!
- Future 15-story, 264-room Live! hotel planned. Now it's only St Cecilia's steeple greeting commuters as they travel on Rt. 2 toward Leominster. In the not-to-distant future, they will be able to see the Live! hotel 15-story tower beckoning them here. Goodbye Johnny Appleseed, hello Slots City! No doubt the traffic impact will probably be considered 'minor', too. Wonder what that does to Hilton's DoubleTree and some of the smaller hotels in the area once the new hotel goes up? See page 121 of the Cordish RFA-2 Application on the MGC site for their hotel plans and page 131 for the expansion (32 Jungle Rd - 'alternate site plan').
- The ZBA issued a Special Permit and said gambling was "indoor recreation". We don't think it should be considered a like use along with racquetball, baseball, tennis, bowling, etc. The Leominster Zoning Ordinance was written prior to the legalization of gambling in MA so it is impossible for gambling to have been contemplated in the zoning ordinance. Gambling is not an existing use or an already permitted use. In fact, gambling is an adult-only activity, not family oriented, and should not be considered a recreational sport or activity. We want to know from our City Solicitor if the ZBA had the authority to issue the special permit.
It is also worth noting that for everyone else, the ZBA states that its process for expansion takes approximately three months. For Cordish, it took approximately a couple of weeks. Special treatment?
MYTH: The benefits of having a slots parlor in our city will outweigh the costs.
FACT: Infrastructure, traffic, environment, housing, public safety, education, water and sewage, have been identified by four regional groups (western, central. metro-Boston, and the southeastern region) of planners and local officials as extraordinary costs that will occur with slot parlors and casinos that local taxpayers should not subsidize. http://uss-mass.org/documents/MAPC%20statement%202011_12_22.pdf
MYTH: A slots parlor will bring 600+ “good jobs” to Leominster.
FACT: The great majority of jobs at casinos can regularly be found on the Forbes list of worst paying jobs in America. The workers at Rush Street Gaming's other establishments are fighting to organize into unions, as their wages are below that which can support a family. Kneale, Klause. "America's Best and Worst Paying Jobs." Forbes. May 4, 2009. http://tinyurl.com/casino-empl