- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Anti-casino activists said Wednesday they may request a recount after Brockton voters narrowly approved a $650 million resort casino proposed for the Brockton Fairgrounds.

Isabel Lopez, an organizer for the Brockton Interfaith Community, said the group will meet in the coming days to decide if it will move forward with the request.

Brockton voters approved the casino plan Tuesday by 143 votes - 7,163 in favor to 7,020 against - as developers hope to capture the state’s last resort casino license.

Lopez said casino opponents took pride in the narrow loss.

“It means a lot,” she said. “This was just a volunteer effort. The people that were for the casino spent more than a million dollars in advertising.”

John McGarry, executive director of Brockton’s elections department, said recount requests typically must be filed within ten days.

He said a handful of provisional ballots and ballots counted by hand at polling locations will be reviewed and likely added to the final tally Wednesday. But those special cases were not enough to change the election’s outcome, McGarry said.

He was doubtful a recount would dramatically change the election results. “The difference in the vote, while it may seem small to people, is actually quite large,” McGarry said. “The numbers are pretty cut-and-dried.”

Joe Baerlein, a spokesman for Mass Gaming and Entertainment, which is developing the casino, said the company is not concerned about a recount and is focused on the next critical steps, including developing specific plans and details related to the casino proposal.

“A win is a win is a win,” he said. “We knew were in a bare knuckled fight for weeks and weeks. We knew this was going to be a close election and that’s how we operated and that’s what it turned out to be.”

Even if casino opponents decide not to seek a recount, Lopez says they will continue to galvanize opposition as the proposal advances in the competition for Massachusetts’ final resort casino license.

Stand UP for Brockton, another casino opposition group, said it is also looking forward to a “fair hearing” before the gaming regulators, noting opponents were vastly outspent and had little time to organize in advance of Brockton’s special election.

“Some of the next steps include getting the youth voices heard on whether they want a casino next to the high school,” Lopez said. “That’s a big major concern and their voices need to be considered.”

The Brockton proposal is competing with plans in New Bedford and Somerset for the state’s third and final resort casino license, which is reserved for the state’s southeastern region.

New Bedford residents vote on a $650 million Foxwoods resort proposed for the city waterfront on June 23. Developers of the Somerset proposal have asked for more time to submit their initial application materials, a request that regulators will take up Thursday.

The southeastern casino license is not expected to be awarded until the fall, if at all. Regulators have reserved the right not to issue the license.

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