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Mayor Race In Boston May Hinge On Casino Issue

The casino gambling issue is one that always drives a lightning rod through political candidates. In the northeastern city of Boston, Massachusetts, it appears as though the issue will be the deciding issue on who becomes the next mayor.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley has become the most vocal voice against bringing a new casino to East Boston. The DA has gone as far as threatening a lawsuit to keep Boston a casino-free city. Conley is one of over a dozen candidates that voiced their opinion on the issue this week.

Conley is pushing for a city-wide vote on the casino issue, and his biggest shot of the week came in response to a statement from Councilor at Large John R. Connolly.

"We are not a confederate of neighborhoods, we are one united city," said Conley, in a statement. "For his own short-term political gain, (Connolly) is willing to disenfranchise 95 percent of the people of Boston he hopes to represent as mayor."

Other candidates have been more diplomatic in their approach to casino expansion in the city. The state has authorized a casino for Eastern Massachusetts, and that means that Boston is very much in play for the gaming facility.

"...we cannot stick our heads in the sand," said Councilor Mike Ross, who, while opposed to a new casino in Boston, understands there may be no choice but to accept that fate.

"State law says casino gambling is coming to Eastern Massachusetts. The entire region is going to suffer negative consequences when a casino opens, so I made the tough decision early in this process that I'd support a casino in East Boston so that the city gets the tax revenue to fund critical priorities like early childhood education, job training, and programs that mitigate the negative effects."

Massachusetts residents have been split on the casino issue for decades. The Legislature spent the past three years discussing different options for gaming expansion, and for the first two years of those discussions, lawmakers could not come to an agreement.

In 2012, Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo finally worked out the details on a plan that permitted casino resorts in the state.

Massachusetts is playing catch-up to Maryland, New York, Maine, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, all having authorized major casino expansion in recent years. Pennsylvania has become the second-largest gaming destination in the US, behind only Nevada.

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