New England News
3:45 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Chicopee Casino Proposal Dies As Potential Developers Opt For Slots License

A long shot bid by the city of Chicopee to get into the casino competition in Massachusetts has failed. But, the city’s mayor says Chicopee does not need casino money to survive

Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette who delivered the annual State of the City Address on Feb.20,2013
Credit WAMC

Two developers that had looked into the possibility of a casino project in Chicopee informed Massachusetts gaming industry regulators Tuesday they will compete instead for a license to operate a slots parlor.  Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette had spoken with officials from both Rush Street Gaming and the Cordish Companies about converting a former mill in Chicopee Center into a casino.

11 applications for gaming licenses were filed with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission by the January 15th deadline. The commission required companies to say by Tuesday which type of license they want.  State law authorizes up to three resort casino licenses, one in each of three geographic zones. One license is available for a slots parlor that can be located anywhere in the state.

Four heavyweights in the gaming industry are competing to build a resort casino in western Massachusetts.  The gaming commission rejected appeals from Mayor Bissonnette and others to extend its deadlines.  The mayor had hoped to secure a developer to convert the Cabotville Mill into a casino.

Bissonnette was bullish on Chicopee’s future as he delivered the annual State of The City Address Wednesday to an audience of business and community leaders.

Bissonnette declared Chicopee to be one of  the financially strongest and safest cities in the state.

The mayor highlighted a reduction in the city’s debt,  high bond rating, and low property tax rates compared with its immediate neighbors.

There is a threat on the horizon.  The city’s largest employer, the Westover Air Force Reserve Base is likely to be impacted by Pentagon budget cuts. Bissonnette is campaigning against a plan to transfer out half the base’s current fleet of 16 C-5 cargo planes

Former mayor and chairman of the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, Richard Kos, says the future of Westover is always a major concern.

Westover employs 5000 people. It puts $240 million into the local economy annually. Local officials credit the base with supporting numerous small businesses that account for most of the recent job growth.

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