Casino protestors rally at Springfield City Hall - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Casino protestors rally at Springfield City Hall

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The group Citizens Against Casino Gaming held a rally outside of City Hall on Sunday afternoon, joined by lawyer Paul Nicolai.

This past week, Nicolai had a letter to the editor published by CBS 3 media partner Mass Live and The Republican.

In it, he accuses the city's host community agreement with MGM as hurtful to Springfield tax payers in two ways.

He said none of the money MGM will pay to the city has to go back to the tax payers.

Second, he said the casino is making a payment stating the property is only worth $451 million.

In a letter out Sunday, Springfield's Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said when completed, the casino will start paying $17.6 million in taxes per year to the city's general fund.

The letter goes on to state, "This amount will escalate at a rate of 2.25% to 2.75% over time, averaging a full and fair market value of $615,845,787 for the project area over the term of the agreement."

Nicolai does not agree.

"What MGM is paying is not taxes," said Nicolai. "It's in lieu of taxes, based on a value of $451 million, which is 25% of what MGM is telling Wall Street today that casino will be worth one year after it opens."

Residents who joined Nicolai at the rally continued to express their concerns.

They feel certain groups are not speaking for everyone in the community.

"I don't want to be a hypocrite," said Linda Cueves.  "I can gamble with the best of them, but to put a casino in the middle of our downtown is ludicrous. If they want to fix this city, it's to stop selling it out, stop outsourcing it. Give incentives to policemen and teachers, who will move back into this community and help to build up this community."

In a Western New England University poll released Saturday, commissioned by CBS 3 Springfield and Mass Live and The Republican, 55 percent of likely voters are expected to support the casino referendum when the vote on Tuesday.

Thirty-five percent were against it and 8 percent remained undecided.

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