BOSTON (AP) — More than a dozen Massachusetts communities near proposed resort casino sites have petitioned the state's gambling commission for "surrounding community" status.
Under state law, casino developers are required to negotiate agreements with municipalities designated as surrounding communities. Such agreements could include funds to help offset impacts a casino might have on traffic or public safety in a neighboring city or town.
Mohegan Sun, which worked for five years on a casino project in rural Palmer, Massachusetts only to see it come up 94 votes short on Election Day, has now shifted its focus to greater Boston. The move leaves Palmer casino supporters concerned about the future.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has authorized Mohegan Sun to apply for a license to build a casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in eastern Massachusetts. However, a new voter referendum on the project will have to take place.
Seeking to avoid a scenario that would have left just one applicant for the lone casino license available in eastern Massachusetts, the five-member gaming commission voted unanimously Tuesday to waive a requirement that a casino applicant secure the approval of local voters before filing a final license application.
With a deadline looming at the end of the month for final applications for resort casino licenses in Massachusetts, the state’s gaming industry regulators have delayed a key decision on the fate of one project. The decision will determine how many competitors will vie for the lone casino license available in the greater Boston area.
The town clerk in Palmer, Massachusetts is expected to announce this week the date for a recount of the votes cast in the November 5th referendum on Mohegan Sun’s $1 billion casino proposal. The Connecticut-based casino operator late last week filed the necessary paperwork to obtain a recount of the referendum it lost by fewer than 100 votes.
The effort to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts is “on the verge of being a mess,” according to a gaming policy expert. Voters in Palmer and East Boston rejected casino projects on Election Day. There is the possibility some casino developers won’t pass a strict background check. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Clyde Barrow, a professor of public policy at UMass Dartmouth, who specializes in the gaming industry. He asked Barrow to assess the current state of casino development in Massachusetts
Mohegan Sun plans to ask for a recount of Tuesday’s referendum in Palmer where voters by a narrow margin rejected the company’s plans for a $1 billion resort casino. If the results stand, it will leave MGM in Springfield as the only company left to apply for the lone casino license available in western Massachusetts.
The focus of the casino competition in western Massachusetts is now squarely on Palmer. People on both sides of the casino issue in the rural town are gearing up for a referendum with an eye toward what happened with Hard Rock’s casino project last week in West Springfield.