CT congressman turned author speaks about casinos in Palmer - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT congressman turned author speaks about casinos in Palmer

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PALMER, MA (WSHM) -

There is less than a month until Palmer voters head to the polls to cast ballots on Mohegan Sun's $1 billion resort casino proposal.

Casino opponents say they're trying to give people in Palmer a perspective on what a casino would bring, so they brought in an anti-casino advocate from Ledyard, CT which is near two casinos.

"The rosy picture that casinos have painted is not so rosy anymore," said congressman turned author, Bob Steele.

Steele watched as Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods moved into his part of Connecticut.

"They've sharply skewed our economy towards low-paying service jobs, and they were followed by a huge increase in the number of problem and pathological gamblers," he said.

Wednesday night he hoped to share his book, The Curse Big-Time Gambling's Seduction of a Small New England Town, and his message.

"If there was ever a time not to invite a casino into your town, this is it," he said.

More than 80 people turned out to hear him speak, including Jean Andresen, a Palmer resident and member of the Quaboag Valley Against Casinos group.

"The biggest thing is that the casino location which they tout as being the best in Western Mass is really the worst, it's right in the middle of schools and residences," Andresen said.

Mohegan Sun officials have touted the jobs and economic development their casino would bring.

"Our position is unchanged, we respect everybody's opinion as to what they individually and collectively feel. We understand that there are people who are opposed on religious, moral and ethical grounds to casino gambling. We understand there are people who are more impacted than others," said Mohegan Sun's Paul Brody.

Steele says unlike Connecticut, residents here have a voice. And no matter which way they vote, they need to use it.

"They were imposed upon by Congress and by the courts, at least Massachusetts has the opportunity to vote, this is a precious right," he said.

The vote will be on Nov. 5.

Mohegan Sun reps say they are continuing to work with Palmer and surrounding towns in this process.

Opponents say they'll be continuing their own campaign.

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