With Massachusetts officially in the casino game, now what?
BOSTON (AP) — The casino gambling industry is off and running with the recent opening of the Plainridge Park Casino in southeastern Massachusetts.
Gambling revenues from the Plainville slots parlor are flowing daily into the state coffers, though the Massachusetts Gaming Commission cautions it’s too early to say whether revenues will meet projections.
The state assumes it will collect $82 million from gambling in the fiscal year that started July 1.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts’ two biggest casino projects are facing potential setbacks, and regulators are weighing issuing another casino license in the face of increased regional competition. Here is a snapshot of Massachusetts’ gambling landscape:
The state’s first casino opened to capacity crowds on June 24, and casino officials say attendance has remained strong.
Through the first full week of operation, the slots parlor generated $6.1 million in gambling revenues, of which the state collected nearly $2.5 million.
The casino, which offers 1,250 electronic gambling machines but no live table games, is expected to generate roughly $200 million in gambling revenues during its first full year of operation.
The opening also means more casino money starts to flow into town coffers — namely, an estimated $2.7 million in annual payments representing Plainville’s share of gambling profits.
Construction was expected to start this spring at the site of an $800 million resort casino proposed for downtown Springfield.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in March, but the state raised issues about the Las Vegas casino giant’s plans for a number of historic structures in its 14.5-acre development site.
Those issues are slowly being worked out, but MGM now says there’s a more pressing concern: the Interstate 91 highway project happening nearby.
The company recently asked the state and city to delay the expected opening by about a year to September 2018.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says he supports the delay, especially since the casino company is offering the city greater financial compensation. State gambling regulators are reviewing the request.
The $1.7 billion resort envisioned for the Everett waterfront needs a critical environmental approval from the state before construction can get underway.
The Las Vegas company hopes to submit later this month the final version of a dense, technical “Environmental Impact Report” dealing with traffic mitigation plans, environmental cleanup and other major issues for the 30-acre, former chemical plant site.
But the nearby cities of Boston, Somerville and Revere have filed separate lawsuits seeking to block Wynn’s project outright.
The communities are leveling numerous allegations of wrongdoing against the state Gaming Commission as they ask the courts to void Wynn’s license and order a new licensing competition.
A state judge is expected to hear the gaming commission’s arguments for dismissing Boston’s lawsuit on Thursday.
Casino plans for the cities of New Bedford and Brockton are competing for the third and final resort casino license in Massachusetts.
Both plans have cleared critical voter referendums in their host cities in recent months.
Mass Gaming and Entertainment, the developers of the plan for the Brockton Fairgrounds, has also cleared a background investigation by the gaming commission staff. KG Urban Enterprises, the developers of a proposed Foxwoods-managed casino for the New Bedford waterfront, is still being vetted.
The next major deadline is Sept. 30, when the companies must submit detailed project proposals. The commission hopes to pick a winner by the end of the year. It also has reserved the right not to select one at all.
Southern New England casino companies are making moves to protect their revenues following Massachusetts’ entry into the game.
In Rhode Island, Twin River Casino is adding more table games and planning to build a new hotel.
It’s also purchased slots parlor Newport Grand and will seek voter approval in 2016 to move it to Tiverton, where it could better compete with Massachusetts casinos like Plainridge Park.
In Connecticut, the Indian tribes that own Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun want to build a joint satellite casino along the Massachusetts border to compete with MGM Springfield. The tribes hope to soon put out a request for proposals to Connecticut communities interested in hosting the facility.
Two Massachusetts Indian tribes are also pushing their own gambling plans.
The Mashpee Wampanoags are still waiting on federal approval to build a resort casino in an industrial park in Taunton.
And the Aquinnah Wampanoag are fighting a federal lawsuit filed by the state challenging its plans to build a modest gambling hall on tribal land on Martha’s Vineyard.