New Bedford voters to decide on $650M casino proposal
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — Residents of the former whaling capital of New Bedford will vote on a proposed $650 million Foxwoods resort casino for the city’s waterfront.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.
Voter approval is critical for the plan to advance in the competition for the state’s third and final resort casino license.
If approved, it would compete with one proposed for the nearby city of Brockton that already has been approved by voters.
The New Bedford vote comes during a critical week for Massachusetts’ nascent casino industry, which kicks off Wednesday with the opening of Plainridge Park Casino, a slots parlor in Plainville, a southeastern Massachusetts town not far from New Bedford.
MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts also have state licenses to build major casinos in the coming years.
MGM is developing an $800 million resort in Springfield while Wynn has proposed a $1.7 billion resort in Everett, near the Boston area.
The New Bedford plan calls for a glitzy resort on a roughly 43 acre site that includes a former NStar power plant.
Foxwoods, the casino company run by a Connecticut tribe, has agreed to manage the operation but the development would be undertaken by KG Urban Enterprises, a New York development group that includes former Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera.
The company wants to dramatically remake New Bedford’s waterfront, which is still home to one of the country’s most lucrative commercial fishing ports.
To get to this stage, it has reached a so-called “host community agreement” with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell’s administration that calls for $4.5 million in initial payments if it wins the casino license.
The company would then pay the city at least $12.5 million annually once the casino opens, on top of paying real estate taxes and investing millions of dollars into public waterfront improvements and related environmental cleanup.