SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 23, 2013

Some betting on casino firm's idea, others worried

DANVERS — The proposal to put more than 1,000 slot machines at the Liberty Tree Mall hit the jackpot with some in Danvers yesterday. Others expressed concerns, however, about the effect on teens of a “slots parlor” where Sports Authority once sold sneakers and basketballs.

A decidedly nonscientific survey yesterday revealed a lot of enthusiasm for the idea as a way to generate business and jobs.

“Why not?” Bob Petrosino of Beverly asked as he ate at New Brothers Restaurant in downtown Danvers. “Gambling brings in revenue.”

“I’ll go with that,” agreed Mike Panzero, a Danvers resident. “The mall down there” — he shook his head sadly — “really. I’ve been down there. ... It’s not the Northshore Mall.” A builder, Panzero shook off initial doubts about the idea when he considered that a revitalized mall could only help business for everyone.

Nearby, however, Danvers banker Mary McLemory complained about the very idea of gambling at the mall, where movie theaters and stores attract lots of young people.

“Is nothing sacred?” she asked. “It’s a place where kids hang out. We don’t need it.”

McLemory said she’s not “generally” against the so-called one-armed bandits or even gambling.

“But it’s good to have it in a segregated area,” she said.

Danvers resident Amy Singleton, who was eating with her young son, had the same reaction.

“I like slot machines,” she admitted with some enthusiasm. “But I don’t know about having them in Danvers. I don’t know if it’s the right place. ... I think it could bring the wrong people.”

Singleton, who lives near the mall, added that it might make a worrisome situation worse. “I think there’s a lot of trouble now at the Liberty Tree Mall,” she said, citing concerns about car and house breaks in town.

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