BREAKING NEWS: Gaming Commission Rejects Brockton Casino Plan

Rendering of proposed casino for Brockon

Rendering of proposed casino for Brockon

BROCKTON – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission rejected plans for a Brockton casino Thursday, leaving the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Taunton project as the sole casino resort planned for Southeastern Massachusetts.

Mass Gaming and Entertainment planned to build a $677 million resort on the Brockton Fairgrounds. The venture is a partnership of developer Neil Bluhm and businessman George Carney.

The group previously said that their proposal would be more successful than the Mashpee tribe’s plan.

The vote to reject the Brockton plan was 4-1.

During their deliberations Thursday, Chairman Stephen Crosby was critical of the plan.

“Because of the tribal status and because of the competitive environment, there isn’t enough opportunity to justify the kind of facility that we and the legislation wanted. We don’t have to make an award in Region C,” said Crosby.

The commissioners debated back and forth the worthiness of the Brockton proposal and whether it would advance the overall goal of the state’s gaming law.

One of those goals is to further economic development in the Southeastern Massachusetts region.

“We have to determine whether the object of conditions in Region C will justify a commercial application which makes it in the long-term overall best interest of the Commonwealth and the reason we can best determine those interests,” said Crosby.

Commissioner Gayle Cameron sounded more supportive of the project during deliberations.

“A spa, a hotel, a multipurpose room that can be used for any number of events, although I would have liked to seen some more detail on how they use that room, but I think numerous food and beverage options make this much more than a convenience casino,” she said.

In light of the decision, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell issued the following statement:

“We have been living on this land for thousands of years and made it possible for non-Natives to establish themselves here. Historically, our people have been the recipients of a string of broken promises. Today is not one of those days. I commend the Gaming Commission for making a difficult but wise and just decision. As their own consultants noted, licensing a casino in the same region lawmakers intended to be the exclusive domain of our Tribe would have meant up to $40 million less revenue per year for the Commonwealth.”

“We are upholding our end of the bargain and are on schedule to open our doors for business by next summer. Today, the Gaming Commission upheld the Commonwealth’s end of the bargain, paving the way for a fruitful economic partnership that will uplift my people and create economic opportunities for the city of Taunton, Southeastern Massachusetts and indeed the entire state.”

The Wampanoags have said they will no longer be required to make payments to the state under its gaming compact if the commission approves another casino in the Southeastern Massachusetts.

A 2013 revenue-sharing deal obligates the tribe pay 17 percent of its annual gambling profits to the state, but only if no other casino is allowed to operate in the region.

MGM and Wynn are also racing to open resort casinos in Massachusetts but have faced delays and aren’t slated to open their facilities until late 2018, at the earliest.

Earlier this week, a state consultant suggested Massachusetts would see less gambling tax revenues if two casinos are allowed to open in its southeastern corner, near Rhode Island.

An analysis by HLT Advisory released Tuesday shows the state could see $28 million to $41 million less each year with two casinos rather than one in the region.

By MATT PITTA, CapeCod.com News Director

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