Playing Their Cards Right: Only Eight Applicants Remain in the Hunt for Three Gaming Licenses

Massachusetts Gaming

By Benjamin Cox

Region A Casinos

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC (“Sterling Suffolk”), Wynn MA, LLC (“Wynn”), and Crossroads Massachusetts, LLC (“Crossroads”) are the three applicants competing for one resort casino license in Eastern Massachusetts.  All three have reached Host Community Agreements with their respective communities.  In November, voters in East Boston, Revere, and Milford will decide whether the projects proposed by Sterling Suffolk and Crossroads remain viable.  Wynn secured approval of its plan for Everett last summer.  On October 30, 2013, Sterling Suffolk was deemed suitable (after Caesars Entertainment’s withdrawal from the project) and suitability determinations for Wynn and Crossroads are expected in November, 2013.

• East Boston & Revere (Sterling Suffolk) The City of Boston and Sterling Suffolk finalized their Host Community Agreement on September 27, 2013.  Once fully complete, Boston projects revenues of over $50 million annually and 4,000 new permanent jobs.  Revere reached a separate Agreement on September 28, 2013 which provides for roughly $15 million in annual revenues, $7.5 million in annual spending on Revere-based businesses, over $30 million in traffic improvements, and a requirement that 10% of the full-time jobs be set aside for Revere residents.  Referenda are currently scheduled in both cities on November 5, 2013, which is the same day as the mayoral election in Boston.

• Everett (Wynn) Wynn’s casino agreement with Everett was put to a vote on June 22, 2013 and voters approved the plan by a margin of over 70%.  The deal would pay Everett roughly $30 million in advance and $25 million per year thereafter.  Earlier this week, Steve Wynn commented that Caesars’ exit from the Sterling Suffolk project was emblematic of amateurish regulatory problems bogging down the approval process in Massachusetts.  A suitability determination of Wynn’s enterprise is expected in November.

• Milford (Crossroads) Milford reached an Agreement with applicant Crossroads on September 9, 2013 for resort casino managed by Foxwoods Massachusetts, LCC with an anticipated $1 billion construction budget.  Milford residents will take to the polls on November 19, 2013 for a referendum vote.  Town administrators predict a large voter turnout as anticipation runs high.  If Crossroads secures a majority of Milford residents at the referendum, it will still need a two-thirds vote at a December 6, 2013 town meeting in order to amend zoning bylaws that currently stand in the way of the project.

Region B Casinos

Hopes were dashed for a resort casino in West Springfield when residents rejected a proposed Hard Rock Casino by a vote of 55%-45% last month.  Although, Hard Rock could resuscitate its bid for a Massachusetts casino by joining forces with Sterling Suffolk in Region A.  The two remaining Region B applicants are MGM Springfield and Mohegan Sun.  MGM Springfield passed its referendum vote but awaits a suitability determination.  Mohegan Sun was deemed suitable and its plan for a casino in Palmer will be considered by Palmer residents next week.  Phase 2 applications for casinos are due by December 31, 2013 for applicants receiving positive suitability and referendum results.

• Springfield (MGM) Voters approved a referendum on MGM’s casino deal with Springfield, with 58% in favor and 42% against.  A suitability decision is expected in November.

• Palmer (Mohegan Sun) Mohegan Sun reached an Agreement with Palmer, which will face referendum on November 5, 2013.  A favorable suitability determination was issued earlier this month.

Slot Parlor Applicants

There are only three remaining slot parlor applicants after Mass Gaming & Entertainment, LLC (“MG&E”) walked away from plans to build a slot parlor in Millbury in advance of the referendum vote scheduled to occur last month.  The polls showed a dead heat two weeks before the vote, but in abandoning its bid, MG&E noted that local support for the project was underwhelming.  An agreement between Ourway Realty, LLC (“Ourway Realty”) and Plainville did not make it to a referendum either, as the Massachusetts Gaming Commission scuttled Ourway Realty’s bid with a negative suitability determination last August.  The remaining three slot parlor applicants, Raynham Park, LLC (“Raynham Park”), PPE Casino Resorts (“PPE”), and Penn National Gaming Inc. (“Penn National”) have each received positive suitability determinations, negotiated Host Community Agreements, and passed referenda.

Each of the applicants submitted a phase 2 application on October 4, 2013, which is currently under review.

• Raynham (Raynham Park) Raynham voters overwhelmingly approved Raynham’s slot parlor agreement with operator Raynham Park by a vote of 1,822 in favor to 290 against.  Raynham Park’s phase 2 application is under review.

• Leominster (PPE) Voters approved Leominster’s slot parlor agreement with PPE on September 24, 2013 by a vote of 62% to 38%, guaranteeing the City $38MM over 10 years if Leominster is chosen for the slot parlor.  PPE’s phase 2 application is under review.

• Plainville (Penn National) Plainville residents decisively approved Penn National’s slot parlor agreement with Plainville last month, by a vote of 1,582 in favor to 502 opposed.  Penn National shifted its gaze to Plainville after losing a vote last month to amend zoning bylaws in Tewksbury that would have provided for a casino there.  Following the loss, Penn National stepped in for Ourway Realty in Plainville, who had previously negotiated the Host Community Agreement before receiving a negative suitability determination.  Penn National’s phase 2 application is under review.

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