Three Companies Submit Final Massachusetts Casino Applications
Anyone paying attention to U.S. casino news in 2013 no doubt followed the ongoing story of American casino proliferation, a race that is particularly hot and heavy in the eastern part of the nation.
One state that garnered its fair share of attention last year was Massachusetts, where some of the most recognizable names in the gambling industry were vying all year, enduring elections and background checks, in order to secure a coveted land-based casino license in the state.
With the December 31 deadline to submit final casino license applications now passed, masslive.com is reporting that three companies have put in their final applications, with MGM, Mohegan Sun, and Wynn Resorts all now officially in the final stages of regulatory consideration.
Mohegan Sun plan still to head to another vote
An exception was carved out for Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun, a proposal that faces a public referendum that has been scheduled for next month on February 25.
After its casino planned for Palmer, Massachusetts, was rejected by voters in that city in a November vote, Mohegan Sun formed a partnership with the historic East Boston racetrack Suffolk Downs, also a loser at a public referendum in early November.
Under the land-based casino expansion law passed in Massachusetts back in 2011, all casino development plans require voter approval before becoming eligible for final consideration by state gaming regulators.
Suffolk Downs, which at the last minute lost its casino partner in Caesars Entertainment (more on that in the section below), did lose the vote in its home neighborhood of East Boston, however voters in adjacent Revere also went to the polls on the matter, which they approved.
Quickly recovering from its loss of a partner and a vote, Suffolk Downs swiftly announced a newly-formed union with Mohegan Sun and a plan to restructure their casino proposal so that the entire development would be located 1,000 yards over, on Revere land.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has allowed Mohegan Sun to submit their application despite the fact that the results of the February 25 referendum obviously won’t be known until the public vote has been held.
“Our application reflects our vision for Massachusetts while addressing the priorities established by the Gaming Commission. Mohegan Sun will create something very special in Revere: a wonderful gaming and entertainment destination that drives tourism and delivers thousands of jobs,” remarked CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority Mitchell Etess.
Licensing process seriously thinned applicant pool
The process of approving casino plans in Massachusetts has attracted a great deal of attention in part because regulators there are said to be among the harshest in the United States.
As mentioned above, Caesars was asked to bow out of its alliance with Suffolk Downs after it received a warning that it was likely to be found unsuitable to operate in the Bay State after gaming officials uncovered possible criminal connections to an investor in a Nevada hotel redevelopment project as part of a routine background investigation.
Caesars Entertainment is now suing the head of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Stephen Crosby, both personally as well as in his professional capacity as the state’s top gambling regulator.
Voters also had a hand in winnowing the number of applicants up for consideration. Hard Rock, Foxwoods, and the afore-mentioned Mohegan Sun all came up empty-handed in public votes.
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