Casino companies in Massachusetts face unusual requirement to negotiate deals with ‘surrounding’ communities
Casino companies in Western Massachusetts and municipal leaders are preparing for some high-stakes negotiations over impact fees and other measures to alleviate the effects of gambling projects on cities and towns that surround a community that would be home to a casino.
Massachusetts is among many states that require commercial casinos to negotiate contracts with municipalities where the resort would be built. But unlike other states, Massachusetts also requires developers to reach separate, written mitigation agreements with each community that might border or be close to a “host” community, casino executives said.
In Western Massachusetts, that means up to a couple dozen different communities could eventually be negotiating agreements for fees, traffic or sewer improvements, school funds or other ways to offset the impacts of casinos in a nearby city or town.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the powerful five-member state agency that will issue licenses for casinos, would be ultimately responsible for designating some municipalities as “surrounding” communities, authorizing them to negotiate agreements with casinos.
The casino law mandates that casino developers reach written agreements with communities where they want to open a resort and then put the details in those agreements up for a vote. Casinos need voter approval before they apply for a state license.
The adjacent or surrounding communities don’t get to vote on casinos, but they can negotiate with companies for fees, improvements to roads or other infrastructure and other protections. The agreements with surrounding communities need to be approved before the gaming commission grants a license.
Casino companies must reach mitigation agreements with surrounding communities as part of the process for applying for a state license from the gaming commission.
It’s currently unclear what communities will be officially named as “surrounding” communities and allowed to bargain for agreements.
More to follow on this process during the next posts. Tomorrow will still be Weekend Entertainment Wednesday. That’s all for now.