Brockton Left Hanging after Massachusetts Regulators Will Not Reopen Casino Application
Posted on: September 17, 2019, 09:03h.
Last updated on: September 17, 2019, 12:36h.
The recent Massachusetts Gaming Commission decision not to reopen a request for a casino in Brockton was called “disappointing,” and supporters say the city is a loser in the process that has extended over multiple years.
Last Thursday, the commission, by a 3-to-1 vote, ruled there are insufficient grounds to reconsider a 2016 application from Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment (MG&E) for the venue license. The commission said it was focused on a narrow legal question during the meeting.
“Brockton needs the jobs and the revenue,” a spokesperson for MG&E told Casino.org when asked for comment about the recent decision. “They have waited eight years for this opportunity and the … mayor is very unhappy with the commission’s decision…. There have been multiple economic studies that show this would be a successful resort casino and … bring benefits to Brockton and the state.”
The company wants to locate a casino in Brockton, a city in southeastern Massachusetts, which was identified by the commission as part of Region C. Two other regions in the state already are home to casinos.
The MG&E spokesperson said the decision leaves the company “very disappointed… It means further delay in Region C, continued loss of revenue to out-of-state casinos in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and a terrible economic blow to Brockton, one of the nine majority/minority cities in the Commonwealth who could use the 2,000 permanent jobs, the estimated $10 million-$12 million in annual payments to the city of Brockton, and the loss of revenue to the state of $65 million a year.”
MG&E says it plans to soon “advance our thoughts” in a letter to the Gaming Commission. The company was “led to believe” that Thursday’s meeting “was on the narrow legal question on whether or not the Gaming Commission had the legal authority to reconsider the denial of [the] Brockton license and not a vote on the substantive issue of reconsideration, as we had not been informed that was a likely option, and that we did not have the opportunity to make a full and complete presentation on our proposal,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added the new Encore Boston Harbor resort casino was not an issue at all in the commission’s denial.
But the Rev. Richard McGowan, a professor of finance at Boston College and expert on New England gambling, told Casino.org that the Massachusetts commission “is worried that the market is already saturated. They also wonder whether that region could support a casino without attracting customers from the Boston area.”
With Encore the major attraction in the Boston area, it seems that the commission felt that there was little chance of a successful regional casino in southeastern Massachusetts,” McGowan told Casino.org.
“Clearly, officials from Brockton were hoping that this would provide some sort of economic stimulus,” McGowan added. “That scenario appears to have little chance of being fulfilled. The fact that the southeast Massachusetts casino has taken so long to be approved is a real handicap.”
In her statement Thursday, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein pointed out that “as long as the Region C gaming license has not been awarded, the commission may choose to reopen Region C to bids from any interested party, including Mass Gaming and Entertainment, at any time.… We will address that issue at an appropriate time in the future, if necessary.”
On Thursday, Neil Bluhm, chairman of MG&E, suggested he would stop his attempt to open a casino in Brockton. “I don’t know how I can continue to hang in here on behalf of Brockton. I’ve spent millions of dollars,” Bluhm was quoted by State House News Service.
Brockton Mayor Moises Rodrigues was also quoted by the news service that “We, from the southeastern part of the state, feel that Massachusetts ends around [Route] 128 and the rest of us are left with crumbs, we get crumbs, and we don’t have the ability to do much for ourselves, because we often feel the state doesn’t do much to help us out.
Any time an opportunity shows up or presents itself, for some odd reason, the upper part of the state gets it, the western part of the state gets it, Boston gets it, and we are left with absolutely nothing,” the mayor added. “I implore you, even though you’re sitting here saying you don’t want to reopen this because there probably could be some additional competition coming down the pipeline.”
MG&E tried to capture the license along with Rush Street, where Neil Bluhm is chairman. Rush Street includes several US casinos, internet gaming, restaurants, and hotels.
New Casino Bid for Region
Meanwhile, another casino bid has emerged for the gaming license that is earmarked for the southeastern part of Massachusetts.
The project comes from real estate and golf course developer Thomas O’Connell and his Notos Group, LLC. The casino complex would be a $300 million-plus investment. Dubbed Wareham Park, the casino is being proposed for a 275-acre parcel in Wareham.
Still up in the air is whether the state’s Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will win federal approval to construct a $1 billion integrated casino resort in Taunton. Word may come from regulators in October.