Another One Bites the Dust in Massachusetts
This week voters in Milford, Massachusetts, a town of about 25,000 residents roughly 40 miles from Boston, turned out to the polls in droves to say no to a casino proposed by Foxwoods.
In the weeks running up to the election, polling results were murky and even Foxwoods officials admitted that the casino had little notion of which way the vote would turn out.
As it so happened, things did not go in favor of Foxwoods, the operator of a tribal casino in nearby Connecticut.
Anti-casino forces chalk up a victory
There were some in Milford who said after Tuesday’s public referendum that while they are not against the addition of new casino properties in the state of Massachusetts, they did not believe that Milford was the right fit for such development.
“From our very first meeting held around a kitchen table, we acknowledged that we would be fighting a David vs. Goliath battle. We knew we would never be able to match the dollars of the Foxwoods campaign. We also knew that money does not buy everything. … We worked together, and we prevailed,” John Seaver and Steve Trettel, representatives from anti-casino group Casino-Free Milford said in a joint statement printed in the Boston Herald.
In response to Tuesday’s vote, which turned out with about 65 percent of Milford citizens against the plan and 35 percent in favor of it, Foxwoods President Scott Butera said,”It’s disappointing, but we have to respect the decision. It would have been a project that the commonwealth and the town of Milford would have been proud of.”
Race for Massachusetts casino licenses has been a heated battle
A lot of eyes have been watching the East coast this year, with the fight for the licenses up for grabs in Massachusetts rivaling only the commencement of real money online betting in New Jersey for breathless coverage by the gambling media and mainstream media alike.
Massachusetts passed a law to allow for three new casinos to be constructed in the state – two full-scale Las Vegas resort style casinos and another slots only gambling parlor – back in 2011. One resort license will be granted for the greater Boston metropolitan area and another for Western Massachusetts.
The winners of the licenses will be announced in early 2014.
Public referendums have disqualified several large gaming concerns
A round a particularly bruising public referendums earlier this month saw Mohegan Sun, another tribal casino interest from the state of Connecticut, knocked out of contention in Massachusetts. It had plans to develop in Palmer, Massachusetts.
A public referendum held on November 5 left historic East Boston racetrack Suffolk Downs scrambling to rejigger its plans after voters in that neighborhood gave the thumbs down to a proposal to put a new casino at the location of the existing track, a project that was left orphaned when Suffolk Downs lost its casino partner, Caesars Entertainment, late last month.
Caesars was forced to abandon its presence in Massachusetts – a state recently touted by Caesars chief Gary Loveman as having the potential to become the next big gambling mecca in the United States – after regulators suggested the company would be deemed unsuitable to operate there after standard background checks uncovered criminal ties to a Caesars investor.
Though East Boston did not approve Suffolk Downs’ development plan, nearby Revere, whose voters also had a say in the matter, went in the other direction and said yes. Suffolk Downs is now working not only to form a new casino partnership ahead of a December 31 licensing application deadline, but also to redraw its plan so that the casino would be wholly located in Revere.