The only section of Massachusetts without a casino could possibly see one in the near future if gaming regulators decide to reopen a bidding process for Region C.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission met on January 24 to supposedly discuss the way in which it will move forward with a restart of the bidding process.
Commission to revisit issue:
However, after examining a transcript (pdf) of the 10am proceedings last Thursday, World Casino Directory News found that the Commission decided that due to “the interim factor change in circumstances,” which would be the January 15, 2019 appointment by Governor, Charlie Baker of Cathy M. Judd-Stein, as the regulating body’s new Chair, it would be “appropriate” to wait until she is in place and the issue can be discussed by the Commission in total.
The transcript further communicates that the Commission received an “additional public comment from the
Aquinnah Tribe,” regarding the reopening of the bidding process.
According to BostonHerald.com, Mass Gaming & Entertainment, LLC seeks another shot at a license for a casino on the Brockton Fairgrounds.
Backed by Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based casino company that partnered with Brockton businessman, George Carney, to form Mass Gaming & Entertainment, which along with seven other companies sought a Category 1 (resort-casino) license for Region C in 2015, had its bid to build a $700 million casino on the Brockton Fairgrounds denied by the Gaming Commission in April 2016.
The Commission determined that Mass Gaming & Entertainment’s application demonstrated that it had not…
“thought broadly and creatively about creating an innovative and unique gaming establishment that will create a synergy with, and provide a significant and lasting benefit to, the residents of the host community, the surrounding communities, the region and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and will deliver an overall experience that draws both residents and tourists to the gaming establishment and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
In June 2018, the company petitioned the Commission for reconsideration of its Brockton casino project only to have its request put off by the regulating body at its meeting the following month.
At the time, Mass Gaming said, “Reconsideration of MG&E’s application is not just the right thing to do for the Southeast region of the Commonwealth, it also is the legal thing to do.”
However, members of the Gaming Commission reportedly commented that they first had to establish a process for handling the reconsideration request, to include input from the public.
MassLive reported at the time that including General Counsel, Catherine Blue, Commission staff members recommended that a number of issues, including a review of the gaming market in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast area and of the expected demand for gaming in Massachusetts, along with other factors, be examined and reported to the regulating body “by a date to be set by the Commission.”
Blue reportedly wrote that the commissioners found Mass Gaming’s application “failed to demonstrate that the proposed project would maximize revenue to the Commonwealth or that it would offer the highest and best value to create a secure and robust gaming market in Region C (southeastern Massachusetts).”
Expanded gaming legislation was signed into law in 2011 in Massachusetts by then-Gov., Deval Patrick. It allowed for three possible Category 1 casinos, along with a single slots parlor within the state. The slots parlor, Plainridge Park Casino, opened in June 2015 and MGM Springfield, owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, opened on August 24, 2018. The Wynn Resorts Limited operated Encore Boston Harbor has a planned opening date of June 1, 2019.
According to the July 2018 MassLive report, the correspondence from Mass Gaming to the Commission, stated…
“Put simply, reconsideration and approval of MG&E’s application would mean over $100 million dollars in the Commonwealth’s coffers and thousands of jobs for Massachusetts residents during the next 2-3 years as opposed to zero revenue and zero jobs for at least the next 2-3 years or more if any other potential bidder is considered.”
Another concern in Region C at the time the Gaming Commission rejected the Brockton proposal was the possibility of competition with First Light Resort and Casino, the $1 billion casino planned by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for Taunton, which is less than 20 miles from the proposed Brockton casino site.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had originally hoped to open its First Light Resort and Casino in 2017, however, the project ran into difficulties after a group of local residents initiated a legal action against the 2015 land-into-trust decision that had given the tribe a 320-acre reservation that was to be exempt from local gaming laws.
After several rounds of legal wrangling, on September 7, 2018 the U.S. Department of the Interior reversed its 2015 decision and concluded that the tribe did not satisfy relevant conditions under the Indian Reorganization Act and, as such, was not eligible to have land placed into trust for the purposes of building a casino resort.
Ready to go:
The company reportedly said that it is prepared to start its Brockton project and that it is also ready to pay the $85 million licensing fee. The Boston Herald further reports that the project’s developers say that upwards of $70 million would be generated in annual state tax revenue and as much as $13 million for the city of Brockton.