Casino Interests Teaming Up to Prevent MA Gambling Expansion Repeal
The expansion of land-based casino gambling in the state of Massachusetts has received a great deal of attention, and for good reason.
First, the potential impact of a land-based casino industry in the Bay State is thought to be quite large, given that the state is well-placed in the northeast.
Its biggest city, Boston, has been touted as having the potential to grow into the largest gambling market outside of Las Vegas, and some of the most prominent names in casino gaming have worked to obtain a license to develop a casino resort there.
Which leads us to the next reason why the Massachusetts casino race has been so high-profile – precisely because of the fame associated with some of the companies that are looking into – or have looked into – building a casino there, among them Wynn Resorts and Caesars Entertainment.
Now, the Boston Globe is reporting that all that work may be in jeopardy should a measure rolling back the casino expansion law appear on ballots in the state come November.
Companies to file motion with MA Supreme Court
Casino companies who are vying for one of the licenses approved when the state passed a law back in 2011 to allow for up to three resort style casino properties in addition to one license for a slots-only gambling parlor are working to bring their case before the Massachusetts Supreme Court, according to the paper.
Citizens who are in support of the development of new casino properties in the state of Massachusetts will also be joining in on the suit.
Some voters want a say in the matter
At issue is the fact that the matter of land-based casino expansion was passed by the legislature and was not directly approved by the people of Massachusetts via a public vote. A petition has garnered more than enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot this coming fall.
“This wasn’t passed by the will of the people. This was the will of a few people on Beacon Hill,” said John Ribeiro, who is heading up the effort to repeal the 2011 law.
Hefty licensing fee non-refundable in the event of law’s repeal
For their part, casino companies that have already been approved by local voters in the cities in which they intend to build the new casinos – Wynn in Everett, Massachusetts, MGM in Springfield, and Penn National, a candidate for the slots license – are balking at the fact that should the repeal go through, there is no provision allowing them to recover the licensing fee that is due 30 days after the companies win approval from state gaming regulators.
That fee, $85 million for the casino resorts and $25 million for the slots license, is seen by some as a contract between the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and the respective casino companies, leading to some speculation that even if Massachusetts voters roll back the law that permits such development in the first place, the repeal might not hold up in court.
“If the law was repealed, I’d wager there would be a significant number of lawsuits against the state,” remarked Carl Jenkins, managing director at the financial firm Duff & Phelps and an observer of the Massachusetts casino process.
Jenkins was quoted as saying that for companies to pay the licensing fee “would be a gamble.”
For its part, Penn National is willing to take the risk should it be approved to operate the lone slots-only gambling parlor in Massachusetts.
“We’ve seen these types of [repeal] challenges before and they’ve never been successful,” said a Penn National senior vice president, Eric Schippers.
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