SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Officials in Springfield, where voters backed a proposed $800 million resort casino, are asking the state's highest court to keep a proposed repeal of the Massachusetts casino gambling law off the November state ballot.
Mayor Domenic Sarno announced Thursday that he and nine other city residents filed a motion with the Supreme Judicial Court, which is expected to hear arguments soon on whether to allow the ballot question to proceed.
Attorney General Martha Coakley ruled last year that the initiative petition to repeal the law allowing up to three resort casinos and one slots parlor in Massachusetts could not go on the ballot. Coakley said the measure would violate the state constitution by amounting to an uncompensated taking of private property.
The group Repeal the Casino Deal, which collected more than 70,000 signatures statewide, has asked the SJC to overturn Coakley's ruling and allow the question to go on the ballot.
MGM Resorts International negotiated a host community agreement with Sarno that was approved by 58 percent of Springfield voters in July. The casino proposal is the only one remaining in western Massachusetts, putting it in a strong position to win a license from the state gambling commission later this year.
Edward Piluka, Springfield's city solicitor, said the motion was filed to protect the city's rights.
"Our efforts are aimed solely at assuring that the SJC gets the Springfield perspective as to the legality of the initiative petition," Piluka said in a statement.
Repeal the Casino Deal did not immediately comment on Springfield's motion.