Massachusetts leaders gear up to oppose casino

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001

BOSTON (AP) -- Religious leaders are vowing to fight casino gambling following reports last month that the an Indian tribe is planning to build a casino in southeastern Massachusetts.

Members of the Wampanoag tribe say they are negotiating real estate deals on two privately owned sites in the New Bedford-Fall River area.

''I resent the fact that this area of the state, where there are so many low-income people, is continuously being targeted as an ideal place for a casino,'' said Bishop Sean P. O'Malley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River. ''These are the people who are the most vulnerable to the whole gambling syndrome.''

''To target Fall River and New Bedford -- why don't they have it on Nantucket?'' O'Malley asked. Nantucket is a wealthy resort island off Massachusetts.

Rabbi Raphael Kanter of Tifereth Israel Congregation in New Bedford argued a casino would not improve the stumbling economy of southeastern Massachusetts. ''That's where my skepticism lies,'' Kanter said.

The Wampanoags say a casino in southeastern Massachusetts could generate $300 million revenue for the state. A third of visitors to Connecticut's two tribal casinos are from Massachusetts, the tribe said.

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