Tewksbury, Massachusetts Casino Plan Takes a Step Forward
This week a Board of Selectmen in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, approved a host agreement with Penn National, a gaming company based in Pennsylvania, to open and run a slots only parlor there.
As Massachusetts is in the process of expanding its land-based casino offerings as an effort to compete with casinos in nearby Connecticut and New York, it will be issuing only one slots only casino license for the entire state.
Host agreement deals with revenue, other local issues
A host agreement is essentially an accord reached between a gaming company interested in developing a casino and the town in which it intends to build. Usually the agreement deals with such matters as traffic, revenue, taxation, crime, and other concerns the city or its residents may feel need to be addressed before licensing, and ultimately, construction can commence.
The situation is no different in Tewksbury, a city with roughly 30,000 citizens. Municipal officials and Penn National, the operator of twenty-eight casino and racetrack properties all over the United States, have settled on a host agreement that would guarantee the town $4 million in taxes and revenue annually, as well as local job creation.
Before the plan can move forward for licensing consideration by state gaming officials, residents will have to approve it in a public vote. The 30-acre parcel of land on which the company plans to build its $200 million facility will also need to be rezoned by town officials before the project can get underway. Dates for both the public referendum and a meeting to work on the rezoning have not yet been set.
Tewksbury selectmen Chairman Scott Wilson was especially excited by the possibility that the construction and the eventual operation of the slots parlor will bring work to locals as the job market remains unsteady.
“This won’t fix all our ills. I’m not peddling this as a cure-all. I think about the construction, using local guys and getting them back to work. It’s a great way to stimulate other parts of our economy,” Wilson was quoted as saying.
News comes on the heels of recent MGM victory in Springfield
The news that Tewksbury and Penn National have settled on a host agreement comes on the heels of the approval of another host agreement in the state of Massachusetts, as earlier this week a public referendum went in favor of MGM in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield.
More than half of eligible voters there turned out in favor of MGM’s plan to build an $800 million resort, which will guarantee the city $25 million in revenue annually under the terms of the host agreement, which was already approved by the Springfield City Council ahead of the citywide vote. Despite minority opposition, the MGM plan was considered to be favorable heading into the vote, with the company having lined up support from community activists eager to see jobs generated by the new casino and its potential to bring tourist dollars to other local businesses.
Wynn met with similar voter support last month
In June, a plan put forward by the Wynn Company for a casino resort project in Everett, just outside of Boston, met with overwhelming support from voters in that city. Residents of Everett, a city sometimes noted for its decrepitude, approved Wynn’s plan to construct a $1.2 billion casino with 87 percent of those who turned out to the polls last month green lighting the proposal.
Wynn’s Everett project has yet to receive the go ahead from Massachusetts gaming officials. If approved, Wynn will build a signature glass curtain style tower. Not known for skimping on luxury, Steve Wynn, the company’s iconic founder, has said that his property will boast over 600 hotel rooms and will be the finest resort in the Boston metropolitan area.
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