Fall River is trying yet another attempt to enter the casino market and, this time, could seriously threaten Rhode Island’s state gambling revenue.
Yesterday I covered the similarities between the successful Bethlehem Sands in Pennsylvania which seems to have greatly decreased the financial despair of that old steel mill town, and without the usual negative expectations from a newly constructed casino. Now let’s look at the proposal in Fall River by Foxwoods.
Steve DeCosta, in an article in the SouthCoastToday tends to paint the future bright,or let’s say cautiously optimistic. At least Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan thinks it’s already a done deal, saying “…. it’s a slam dunk!……A casino will be built in Fall River creating thousands of jobs for our residents and generating millions of dollars in revenue for public safety and education. This is a reality!” According to Flanagan, Foxwoods and its partners had secured options on 30 acres in the South End of the city. Others think that an almost vacant mall off of Route 24 might be the best place.
It’s still much too early to tell. As Steve DeCosta puts it, “Foxwoods still has a number of legal hurdles to clear, including the negotiation of a host community agreement and passage of a public referendum. And in four previous attempts to expand its gaming empire beyond its massive resort in southeastern Connecticut, Foxwoods has failed.”
For some reason, Foxwoods just hasn’t been able to put it all together. Milford,MA., and Philadelphia PA, are two of four proposed casinos that did not come to fruition. How is Fall River going to be different?
Members of the partnership between Foxwoods & Fall River behind the new Foxwoods plan have said they learned a lot from their loss in Milford, and from the failure of other suburban casino proposals last year. And in choosing economically distressed Fall River, Foxwoods should find a political climate more receptive than the suburbs, where voters have been unmoved by the resort casino industry’s promise to create jobs, tourism, and tax revenue.
The plan, similar to Milford’s, will include 20 restaurants, a hotel, convention and entertainment space, shops, a spa, and a gambling floor.
Mark Arsenault, of the Boston Globe, has been following the casino proposals in the Boston area. He mentions that “….The licensing process in the Western and Greater Boston regions is just months away from finishing, but language in the 2011 state casino law delayed bidding in the southeast to allow a federally recognized tribe, expected to be the Mashpee Wampanoag, time to make progress on a casino. The Mashpee want to build a casino in Taunton. The tribe cannot begin until the US Department of the Interior takes the proposed casino site into federal trust on behalf of the Mashpee. The problem for the Mashpee is that the federal government’s legal authority to create trust land for many tribes is in question, due to a 2009 US Supreme Court decision.”
It seems Mayor Flanagan doesn’t see the Mashpee casino a threat to the Fall River venture, since, in his words, the Mashpee Wampanoags still face “insurmountable hurdles” to getting trust land.
That’s all for now.