Supreme Judicial Court hears arguments on ballot vote to repeal - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Supreme Judicial Court hears arguments on ballot vote to repeal Mass. casino gambling

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A rendering of MGM Springfield's $800 million resort and casino proposal for the city's South End neighborhood. A rendering of MGM Springfield's $800 million resort and casino proposal for the city's South End neighborhood.
BOSTON, MA (WSHM) -

Springfield officials were in Boston Monday as the state's highest court heard arguments on whether to allow a ballot vote on repealing casino gambling in Massachusetts.

Protesters stood outside the Supreme Judicial Court calling for a repeal casino gambling question on the November ballot.

"If common sense prevails it will be on the ballot in November," said former attorney general Scott Harshbarger.

Repeal casino representatives gathered enough signatures to get a question on the November ballot to keep gambling out-of-state, arguing that the legislator cannot contract away voters' power to regulate gambling.

"If we get a fair hearing here it will determine that people have the right to vote that's what this is all about," Harshbarger said.

Attorneys were satisfied with Monday's high profile case hearing. They said the justices were well prepared and engaged.

"The question is, how much liability will this expose the Commonwealth to going forward?" said Thomas Bean of the council for plaintiffs.

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said through this two and a ½ year process MGM has spent between $30 and $40 million and have contractual agreements with the city.

"I think we deserve the opportunity to go forward," Mathis said.

Springfield Solicitor Ed Pikula said the argument seems to really target the City of Homes.

"We do think we have put forth all of the legal issues that the court needs to address this, and we hope that there will be a decision that's favorable," Pikula said.

But one plaintiff says she's confident their arguments will prevail and wants voters to have the opportunity to go to the ballot in November

"We have a great opportunity here, a historic opportunity here in a historic courthouse to change the tide of predatory gambling in the nation and the Commonwealth and there's no surprise to me that we are doing it here in Massachusetts," said anti-casino leader Kathleen Conley Norbut.

Next plaintiffs must collect an additional 11,500 signatures to pass the same hurdles that every other ballot initiative is working on. A decision must be made by July 9.

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