Massachusetts Casino Hearing Set for This Week
Among the biggest – and best-publicized – news stories coming out of the East Coast gambling scene last year was the casino licensing race currently underway in Massachusetts.
The attention shined on the Bay State’s process was due in no small part to the abundance of big name casino outfits vying for a piece of the Massachusetts pie.
Such companies as Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, MGM, Hard Rock, and Mohegan Sun, just to name a few, had their hats in the ring as they worked to gain one of the highly coveted casino licenses the state plans to issue in the coming months as a result of the land-based casino expansion bill Massachusetts passed back in 2011.
According to the Boston Globe, on Wednesday those companies that remain in the contest will have the opportunity to appear before Massachusetts gaming regulators to make direct statements as to why each believes it is suited to operate a land-based casino resort in the state.
Three companies left standing to appear
Under Massachusetts law, before any casino firm could advance to the final stages of licensing consideration, first each had to win a public referendum.
Those votes, along with mandatory background investigations, managed to significantly thin the herd of applicants.
Two companies have designs on Boston, one for Western Massachusetts
If approved, Wynn has promised to transform a polluted parcel of land fronting the Mystic River in Everett, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston), once the home of a Monsanto chemical processing facility, into a $1.2 billion resort modeled on its Macau casino property, which is largely credited with introducing western style casino resorts to the special Chinese gaming zone of Macau, the most profitable gaming mecca in the entire world.
Mohegan Sun is likewise seeking to gain approval for the lone Boston-area casino resort license. A public referendum loser in early November, Mohegan Sun went on to form a partnership with Suffolk Downs in the wake of its loss at the polls.
Suffolk Downs was in the position of having two November referendums, one in the East Boston neighborhood and yet another in the city of Revere. Residents of both locales voted on the matter due to the fact that the proposed new casino would impact both.
East Boston denizens came back with a “no” vote, whereas voters in Revere approved the Suffolk Downs plan in spite of the last minute exit from the project of Suffolk Downs’ former casino partner, Caesars Entertainment. Caesars was asked to walk away from the development after Suffolk Downs received word that the company was likely to be deemed unsuitable to operate in the state because the routine background investigation uncovered alleged criminal ties to a Nevada hotel redevelopment project.
Moving quickly to establish a new casino partner in Mohegan Sun, Suffolk Downs also shifted its plans to ensure that the new casino, if built, will solely occupy land belonging to Revere. Revere residents will have another chance to cast a ballot on the measure in February – the project was given special consideration as far as the December 31, 2013 final application date was concerned.
As for MGM, it is looking to site a new casino in the Western Massachusetts city of Springfield, the second largest metropolitan area in the state.
State regulators have come under fire
In the wake of Caesars’ hasty escape from Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has been criticized as being overly harsh.
To boot, Caesars has filed a law suit against the head of that body, Stephen Crosby. Caesars is suing Crosby both as an individual as well as in his professional capacity as the highest-ranking gambling regulator in the state of Massachusetts, alleging that, amongst other accusations, Crosby cannot be impartial owing to a personal friendship he has with a stakeholder in the Everett property on which Wynn plans to build.
Caesars has also accused Crosby of personally asking Wynn to remain in the casino race, a charge that Steve Wynn himself denies.
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