Massachusetts Gaming Commission Denies Brockton Casino License

Posted on: April 29, 2016, 08:42h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2016, 09:07h.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) voted 4-1 against a $677 million Brockton casino being proposed by Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a partnership company formed by Rush Street Gaming Chairman Neil Bluhm and Brockton Fairgrounds owner George Carney.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Brockton casino
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission denied a proposal to build a casino resort in Brockton this week on fears of competing interests with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. (Image: Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment, LLC)

The decision culminates a yearlong process of back-and-forth between the state and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Gaming Commission members have been wrestling with trying to determine if the commercial Brockton casino would actually decrease tax revenues for the state.

The Brockton Fairgrounds, the proposed location of the resort, is just 20 miles away from the forthcoming Mashpee casino in Taunton. Under the Mashpee’s compact with Massachusetts, the tribe pays 17 percent of its gambling revenue to state should it hold exclusivity on the region.

The Brockton casino would have violated the compact and voided the Mashpee’s obligations to pay taxes on its gaming income.

“We have been living on this land for thousands of years and made it possible for non-Natives to establish themselves here,” Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. “Historically, our people have been the recipients of a string of broken promises. Today is not one of those days.”

Broke Brockton

The birthplace of Rocky Marciano, the inspiration of Sylvester Stallone’s classic American film “Rocky,” Brockton is one of the poorest towns in the entire state.

Brockton routinely places in the bottom ten of the state’s more than 350 cities and towns for annual per capita income. Brockton is also regularly referred to as one of the most dangerous cities to live in Massachusetts.

The $677 million casino would have brought jobs to the highly unemployed area and a sense of new life and energy. Unfortunately for residents, politics got in the way.

“I feel bad for the people of Brockton because they desperately need the jobs and the city needs the money,” Carney told the Boston Globe after the vote.

MGC Chairman Stephen Crosby said the competing casino in Taunton wasn’t the only reason for the rejection. He panned the Brockton design and called it a “great disappointment.”

“It comes down to this not being the kind of casino Massachusetts envisioned,” Crosby said. “These decisions are difficult and we acknowledge can be very disappointing. . . However in the end, the Commission has a responsibility to make a big decision in view of all considerations and that includes the best long-term interests of the Commonwealth.”

Massachusetts Loses, Malaysia Wins

Though the Mashpee Council says the MGC verdict was good for both sides and the state will receive an estimated $40 million in annual taxes from its Taunton resort, the real winner is the Genting Group, a Malaysian conglomerate that will finance the vast majority of the $1 billion build.

Genting owns Resorts World in Queens, New York City, and has proposed casinos in Miami and Las Vegas.

It’s now unclear if the MGC will look to other towns and cities in the third and final Region C.

The 2011 Expanded Gaming Act called for three destination resorts split into three geographically diverse regions across the state. The MGM Springfield claimed the western region and Wynn Boston Harbor owns the central permit.