A $677 million casino proposal for the Brockton Fairgrounds has been voted down by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, owned by Neil Bluhm, was seeking a commercial gaming license for the “Region C” gaming facility but the four to one decision by the commission effectively nixed its casino bid, according to Mass Live. Plans for the casino would have put it just 20 miles from the casino in Taunton being developed by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which broke ground on April 5 for its First Light Resort & Casino.
On September 18, 2015, U.S. Department of the Interior approved a land into trust application submitted by the Mashpee Wampanoag for the transfer of land in Taunton and in Mashpee for the tribe. The historic decision gave the tribe the green light to develop a federally regulated casino. The process of seeking a commercial casino within the same area had already begun by the state’s gaming commission.
The commission’s rejection of the Brockton casino plan make the Mashpee Wampanoag casino the only game in Region C. It also means the state doesn’t lose out on the 17 percent of the tribe’s gross gambling revenues from the Southeastern Massachusetts casino that was agreed upon between the tribe and the state in 2012 if the Brockton project didn’t happen. Had the Brockton proposal been approved the state would have received nothing from the tribe.
Things didn’t look good for the competing casino project even before the hearing got started yesterday, with Chairman Stephen Crosby stating that the planned Brockton casino was a “great disappointment that “sits in the middle of a vast parking lot, completely isolated from any other operating part of the community, with no links or coherent strategies for broader urban renewal or economic development,” according to the Boston Herald.
The gaming commission’s decision was praised by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We have been living on this land for thousands of years and made it possible for non-Natives to establish themselves here. Historically, our people have been the recipients of a string of broken promises. Today is not one of those days,” Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said.”I commend the Gaming Commission for making a difficult but wise and just decision. As their own consultants noted, licensing a casino in the same region lawmakers intended to be the exclusive domain of our Tribe would have meant up to $40 million less revenue per year for the Commonwealth.”
Last month, the tribe warned that legal action would be taken to protect its interest should the commission award a commercial license and questions were raised regarding whether the competing Brockton and Taunton projects are oversaturating Massachusetts’ southeast corner with gambling. Plainridge Park in Plainville already calls the region home, as does Twin River, a full-fledged casino located in nearby Lincoln, Rhode Island. The latter is also seeking approval to open another casino along the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border.
First Light Resort & Casino is expected to open in 2018. The resort will feature a 150,000 square foot casino, an events center, 600 hotel rooms, 150 table games, 3,000 slot machines and 40 poker tables.