By Dustin Luca
---- — While the debate surrounding a casino next door has long since ended, the impact of the proposal continues in the form of empty wallets.
Tewksbury residents opposed to the prospects of a casino were quick to act in July when Penn National Gaming proposed the Merrimack Valley Casino in their town, just a heartbeat from the Andover line. In response, several formed No Slots Tewksbury, a grassroots organization aimed at pushing against the casino pitch.
“When this whole thing came about, some of the residents decided to dip into our own pockets to provide for some of the resources needed for campaigns,” Vinny Fratalia, a co-leader of the group, said. “We did pretty well, as far as we hoped.”
Now, with somewhere between $7,000 and $8,000 spent on signs, fliers, pamphlets and more, the group is soliciting donations to recover some of the losses, Fratalia said.
“Nobody was looking to get any money back from this thing. It was just a question of time being of the essence,” he said.
The group held a fundraiser recently at Tewksbury Country Club, which was attended by around 80 to 100 people.
While the group is far from paying back its members in full, Fratalia said No Slots Tewksbury wouldn’t be upset if they fail to do so in the end.
“If we do, if we don’t, that’s what happens. I don’t think anybody was looking to get paid back,” he said. “Everybody donated for their heart, and we’re glad we stopped this casino.”
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Andover neighbors looking to help can send donations to No Slots Tewksbury, care of the Lowell Five Bank, located at 1775 Main St., Tewksbury.