Brockton joins the list of Massachusetts cities that had a momentary glimpse in the gaming industry sun, only to be squashed my either the Massachusetts Gaming Commission or other significant factors.
Remember this list of “Never-Gonna-Happen” Casino Projects?
Mohegan Sun Palmer, New Bedford, Ceasars Entertainment pull out in East Boston, Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs, Milford Crossroads Resort, Charlton, Raynham, Leominster & Worcester Slot’s Only Casinos, Ameristar & Hard Rock proposals in Springfield, even Wynn flirting with a Foxborough Casino.
Well, add Brockton to the list.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission last week voted 4-1 against issuing license for a commercial casino at the Brockton fairgrounds. Crosby, MGC Chairperson, through Rush Gaming’s Brockton proposal under the bus and started it’s downfall earlier when he critiqued project from Mass Gaming & Entertainment as a “convenience casino” that does little to differentiate itself, does not adequately pay homage to what would be its host city or the state, and would be unlikely to improve the surrounding area. Mass Gaming & Entertainment proposed a $677 million casino 25 miles away from Taunton, where the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe earlier this month broke ground on a $1 billion casino resort. The voted ended the yearlong effort by Mass Gaming, a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming, to qualify for the commercial license for a southeastern zone casino. Rush Gaming includes two PA casinos, as well as two others in the country in its portfolio – Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and The Sugar House in Philadelphia with just opened its $164 million expansion.
So, what’s next in Brockton?
After a 15-year hiatus, thoroughbred horse racing is set to return to the Brockton Fairgrounds this summer, with a planned schedule of 30 racing days financed in large part by money generated by the state’s casino industry.
Matt Murphy of the Gloucester News recently wrote an article about a fund put aside to help thoroughbred horse racing in Massachusetts. “The intention was to try to keep horse racing alive in Massachusetts in part for those enjoy it and those who work in that industry, but also because it supports the agriculture industry across the commonwealth, pasture lands, growing hay, etcetera, etcetera,” Sen. President Stanley Rosenberg said. The industry, however, continues to shrink across the state after casino efforts at Suffolk Downs and Brockton Fairgrounds came up short.
Sean P. Murphy of the Boston Globe reported that the Carney family, has owned the 60-acre fairgrounds for decades, had hoped the property would become home to a $677 million casino and hotel complex. “The Carneys had planned to have thoroughbred horse racing at the fairgrounds this summer regardless of the casino vote, but only for this year and possibly next. Now, horse racing on the 5-furlong track may become a mainstay, at least while other development options are considered.”
The season would open July 2 and run into September, with racing twice a week. The dates are not settled, but work crews have already begun replacing some of the track and repairing the inside rail in anticipation of the season.
Carney said he will ask the Gaming Commission next month for $5 million from the horse racing fund. Almost all of the money will go to purses, the cash prizes paid to a winning horse’s owner, trainer, and jockey. William Lagorio, president of the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which is helping organize the Brockton races, said the season is meant to benefit local trainers, jockeys, and horse breeders.
“We’re exciting about bringing thoroughbred horse racing back, and we think it’s going to be well received,” said Chris Carney. “One door closes, another one opens.” Brockton should embrace Carney’s optimism and never let go.