Casinos Bet on Residents to Approve Host Community Agreements Across the Commonwealth

By Abim Thomas and Benjamin Cox

The landscape for brick-and-mortar gambling in Massachusetts will become a lot clearer over the next eight weeks.  Earlier this year, 11 applicants submitted their phase one applications in a two-step application process, vying for one of the three then-available licenses – two casino licenses and one slot parlor license.

Three applicants are competing for the Region A casino license in the Greater Boston area, three others seek the Region B casino license in Western Massachusetts, and five applicants are jockeying for a single slot parlor license, which is not subject to geographical restriction.  Later this year, new applications will be accepted for a third casino license in Region C for Southeastern Massachusetts.

In order to compete for one of these three licenses, the applicants must first find a willing host community for their proposed construction project, reach a revenue-sharing agreement with that community and obtain voter approval of the agreement.  At this point, eight of the 11 applicants have reached agreements with their host communities.  Of those eight agreements, two have been approved by the voters.  Voters in Everett and Springfield approved the agreements with Wynn and MGM, respectively.

That leaves six negotiated agreements that still need to go to the voters for their approval to stay in the running for a coveted license.  Over the next eight weeks, residents in Raynham, West Springfield, Plainville, Tewksbury, Millbury, and Leominster will be asked to approve their Host Community Agreements.  Three of the 11 applicants are still negotiating with their host communities.  The status of each applicant is summarized below.

  • Negotiated and Approved
    • Everett, Region A Casino (Wynn MA, LLC)
      • Wynn’s casino agreement with Everett was put to a vote on June 22, 2013.  Voters approved the plan by a wide, 87% to 13% margin, validating Wynn’s $405,000 spending campaign.  Wynn is one of three applicants competing for the Region A casino license for Greater Boston.
    • Springfield, Region B Casino (MGM Springfield/Blue Tarp Redevelopment, LLC)
      • A referendum on MGM’s casino deal with Springfield was held on July 16, 2013.  Voters approved the plan, 58% in favor and 42% against, with a quarter of all eligible voters participating.  MGM is one of three applicants competing for the Region B casino license for Western Massachusetts.
  • Negotiated, Approval Pending
    • Raynham, Slot Parlor (Raynham Park)
      • Voters will turn out on August 13, 2013 for a referendum on Raynham Park’s slot parlor agreement with Raynham.
    • West Springfield, Region B Casino (Hard Rock/HR Massachusetts, LLC)
      • Hard Rock’s casino deal signed with local officials faces a referendum vote on September 10, 2013.  Hard Rock is one of three applicants competing for the Region B casino license for Western Massachusetts.
    • Plainville, Slot Parlor (Plainridge Racecourse)
      • The slot parlor agreement between Plainridge and Plainville will be put to a vote on September 10, 2013.
    • Tewksbury, Slot Parlor (Penn National Gaming, Inc.)
      • A Referendum on Penn National’s slot parlor agreement with Tewksbury is scheduled for September 21, 2013.  Penn’s slot parlor licensing agreement with Tewksbury follows its unsuccessful bid for a casino in Springfield.
    • Millbury, Slot Parlor (Mass Gaming & Entertainment, LLC)
      • Millbury voters will take the polls on September 24, 2013 to vote on the slot parlor compact between Millbury and Mass Gaming & Entertainment, LLC (a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, LLC).
    • Leominster, Slot Parlor (PPE Casino Resorts)
      • Leominster’s slot parlor agreement with PPE will guarantee the City $38MM over 10 years if voters approve the proposal on September 24, 2013.
  • Negotiations Ongoing
    • Palmer, Region B Casino (Mohegan Sun)
      • Mohegan Sun is currently negotiating the terms of a host community agreement with Palmer.  A referendum will be held once an agreement is reached.  Mohegan Sun is one of three applicants competing for the Region B casino license for Western Massachusetts.
    • East Boston – Revere, Region A Casino (Sterling Suffolk Racecourse/Caesars Entertainment)
      • An agreement with Suffolk Downs (in partnership with Caesars) for a casino straddling the city lines of East Boston and Revere is being negotiated.  A deal with Revere is complete, but talks with Boston are ongoing.  Suffolk Downs/Caesars is one of three applicants competing for the Region A casino license for Greater Boston.
    • Milford, Region A Casino (Crossroads Massachusetts, LLC/Foxwoods Resort Casino)
      • No deal is in place, but Crossroads’ recent partnership with Foxwoods for a casino in Milford sweetens the prospects that the sides could reach an agreement, with a referendum to follow.  Crossroads/Foxwoods is one of three applicants competing for the Region A casino license for Greater Boston.

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