Foxwoods Fall River Casino Goes Official, But Still Needs a Site

Posted on: February 1, 2014, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: January 30, 2014, 01:50h.

Foxwoods is still in the game in Massachusetts, with Fall River now behind their casino project (Image: WBZ-TV)

Foxwoods may have been rejected in Milford, but they’re not giving up on their dream of a Massachusetts casino just yet. As has been speculated for some time now, Foxwoods and the city of Fall River are working together to produce a casino proposal that they hope will be able to win one of the three casino licenses available in the state.

Economic Boost for City

The plans were announced at a press conference recently, in which Mayor William Flanagan and officials from Foxwoods made public their plan to bring a $750 million resort casino to the city. The mayor said that the casino could produce as many as 5,000 jobs for the city, which has continued to suffer from an unemployment rate that is far higher than that of Massachusetts as a whole.

According to officials, the casino would feature 140,000 square feet of gaming, along with up to 20 restaurants, a hotel, a convention center and venues for concerts and other events.

“We want this to be a destination here in Massachusetts as well as the Northeast,” Mayor Flanagan said.

Foxwoods CEO and president Scott Butera agreed that the casino would be a “destination resort,” saying that major properties such as the one they have planned are “economic engines like nothing else in the world.”

While Foxwoods was rejected from Milford, they feel confident that they’ll be welcomed in Fall River.

“We know it’s the right home for us,” Butera said.

Locals Support Foxwoods Project

Local experts on the casino industry agree with Butera’s assessment. Professor Clyde Barrow of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth says that non-binding votes and public polling have consistently shown support for a casino in the Fall River area.

“Assuming they get a site and can negotiate a host agreement, I have no doubt a casino proposal would pass in Fall River,” said Barrow.

Finding a site appears to be the largest sticking point in the plan at the moment. While Foxwoods has a rough plan of what they’d like to do in Fall River, they don’t yet have any land to build on yet.

That was a major focus of the Tuesday press conference, as Mayor Flanagan appealed to owners who might potentially be willing to sell large parcels of land. Foxwoods is reportedly looking for a site of 30 to 70 acres on which to build, with the mayor saying that a waterfront site would be ideal.

Foxwoods should be able to move quickly, as the casino firm has already undergone background checks and received a suitability ruling during their campaign to build a casino in Milford.

Foxwoods would now be competing for the casino license available in Southeastern Massachusetts. While the licenses for Western Massachusetts and Greater Boston will be awarded in a matter of months, the Southeastern license was delayed as state regulators allowed the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to attempt to gain land on which to build a casino in Taunton. With that process seemingly stalled, the state gambling commission lifted the freeze on the Southeastern region last year. Foxwoods has become just the second company to seek a casino in the region, joining KG Urban, which is looking to build a casino in New Bedford.

For Foxwoods, the strange series of events that brought them to Fall River feels like divine intervention.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Butera said,” and He directed us here.”

Who knew God is in  the casino business?