Group protesting casino in West Springfield - KCTV5

Group protesting casino in West Springfield

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, New England held a grand opening for their new campaign office in West Springfield Tuesday.

Before the festivities, protestors with the group No Casino West Springfield were picketing on Memorial Drive. They held signs urging passing motorists to honk, if they didn't want a casino.

West Springfield scheduled a vote for Sept. 10, just a few days before the start of the Big E. Voters must decide whether to accept or reject an $800 million resort casino project. If approved and awarded the sole license by the state gaming commission, it will be built on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition.

Protestors said they were worried about an increase in crime, especially drugs and prostitution. They also said their information showed property values around casinos in other metropolitan areas went down. They were also worried small business would suffer because of the casino.

That information is wrong according to Tim Maland, president of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino New England. He cited a study done by Harvard that showed even during the economic downturn, home prices remained relatively steady, or even went up slightly. He cautioned people about believing information that isn't true. Just because somebody said it, doesn't make it a fact, he said.

Springfield residents voted to accept a competing plan presented by casino company MGM July 16.

Residents in Palmer still had to make a decision whether to bring in a casino run by Mohegan Sun. That vote was expected in September or October.

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