By Bryan McGonigle
State Sen. Barry Finegold has spoken out against the proposed Merrimack Valley Casino at 300 Ames Pond Drive in Tewksbury.
"Throughout the casino expansion debate I have consistently opposed slots parlors regardless of location, and therefore I stand opposed to the proposed Tewksbury slots parlor," Finegold said in a statement Tuesday.
Selectmen approved a host community agreement with Penn National Gaming to pursue a 1,250-slots facility at 300 Ames Pond Drive.
Tewksbury will vote at an Aug. 20 special Town Meeting on whether to allow a zoning change that would make the slot parlor possible.
Finegold said he understands Tewksbury's financial slump, but he maintains that a slots parlor would leave the town, and surrounding areas, in worse shape in the end, because since it wouldn't be a "destination casino," most customers would be residents from nearby.
"So, we must ask ourselves, where will all of this money be coming from?" he said. "While I fully understand the need for increased revenue and jobs, make no mistake: people only have a certain amount of disposable income. The money the town says it will raise by establishing a slots parlor will come from someone’s wallet."
"That means people will spend less money elsewhere and, in the long run, this slots parlor will cost us more revenue, jobs and growth than what is being promised," he added.
Finegold's statement was a plea to Tewksbury residents to vote no on the slots parlor, something echoed by former State Sen. Susan Tucker, who attended an Andover public forum held by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission last week. Tucker urged Andover residents to help campaign in Tewksbury against the deal before their Town Meeting.
"Their goal is to suck in as many citizens as possible to throw their money in the slots, money that will go toward investors out of state, and that my friends is not economic development," Tucker said,