On May 12, city voters will decide whether they want a $650 million resort casino. If approved, it will go up against other proposed projects in New Bedford and Somerset for the final casino license.
But is Brockton and developer Rush Street Gaming a good fit for the last Massachusetts casino in the battle over New England’s casino gamblers? Let’s take a look.
The casino is proposed for the Brockton Fairgrounds, now owned by George Carney. The facility would include a seven-story, 225-room hotel, a 240,000-square-foot gaming facility, restaurants, parking garage and 25,000-square-foot entertainment center that would host events like boxing, comedians and musical acts. As a comparison, Mohegan Sun Arena is 30,000 square feet, so the entertainment facility will be a terrific advantage, especially considering the boxing rich history of the city.
But, its proximity to the high school and middle school (and these are large facilities!) is a major concern. “Two schools within a block and a half of this operation. That’s a major concern,” said School Committee member Ossie Jordan.
This is where concerns start.
Artist renderings, drawn by Klai Juba Wald Architects,
shows the casino was designed to have a New England look, with its gabled roofs atop brick veneer buildings. From the entrance to Brockton High School, there would be a landscaped berm and pond, helping restrict access. But is that enough.
Rush Street Gaming is offering a casino that will generate 1,400 union construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs, which would pay a projected average of $50,000 a year, including benefits, and come with a Brockton resident hiring preference for city vendors. Interesting that if a proposed tribal casino is built in Taunton, the minimum annual payment to the state drops – something that the state may or may not have control over with the Wampanoag Tribe.
And, who is Rush Street Gaming? The company has developed and operates casinos in the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL and Pittsburgh, and the Sugar House in Philadelphia. Not the greatest industry portfolio. And you might remember that Rush Street Gaming was looking into a casino in the Millbury/Worcester area in 2013 until they couldn’t get a community agreement completed, then pulled out at the beginning of Mass gambling expansion. Rush Street Gaming was previously criticized for their casinos operated in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and fined more than a dozen times from 2010 to 2012 by state gambling regulators for various offenses, including underage gambling. And Brockton wants them building a casino next to Brockton High School?
I think there is more digging to do in Brockton concerning the casino issue – and I’m not talking about breaking ground just yet.
That’s all for now.