Mashpee Wampanoags Casino – “Game Changer” for Mass Casino Expansion?

Taunton Proposal

Taunton Casino Rendering for Mashpee Wampanoags Proposal

The Boston Globe reported last week that the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe appear to be making significant progress in its quest to secure land in Massachusetts to build a Las Vegas-style casino.

We’ve been hearing about this on-again, off-again casino for three years, but it now seems closer than ever to fruition.

Proposed Brockton Casino

Proposed Brockton Casino

The federal government recently informed the tribe in a letter that a decision in their case is imminent. The tribe needs the federal government to help them convert 150 acres of land into a reservation, which would allow for the casino to be built under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.  The tribe wants to build a $500 million casino in Taunton, which is in the Southeastern part of the state. But, Brockton also is competing for the SE license in Region C.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs seems confused on what exactly it’s communications to the Mashpee Wampanoags means.

  1. the tribe’s request is under review
  2. they are inviting comments for a 30-day period on the tribe’s request to issue a reservation proclamation
  3. no date has been identified in which a reservation proclamation will be issued by the Department of the Interior
  4. issuance of a reservation proclamation is a separate and distinct action from acquiring land in trust…”

MashpeesIt seems the important part is that a reservation proclamation would allow the tribe to construct a casino in Taunton if the land has been turned into a trust.

“This letter to the City of Taunton is an indication that the Interior Department is one step closer to making a final decision on our full application,” tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a press release regarding the letter. But the letter refers to looking into the trust, not deciding on it.

Estele C. Borges, president of Taunton’s City Council, said that the council and the City of Taunton have already responded when more than 60 percent of city residents voted in favor of a casino to be constructed in Taunton.  So the BIA seems to have the last say.

What will this mean to Brockton?  It seems that two casinos in Region C, so close to Rhode Island Casinos and the new Plainridge slots joint may add to the saturation problem.  The Massachusetts Gaming Commission did refer to the fact that neither Brockton or the then alive New Bedford proposal might not see a casino.  It might depend solely on the BIA’s decision with the Mashpee Wampanoags casino in Taunton.

More to come.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

 

 

Massachusetts Casinos – A Closer Look at Brockton and Rush Street Gaming

Proposed Brockton Casino Look

Proposed Brockton Casino Look

I have all along thought New Bedford would be the best Choice for the Region C casino license in Massachusetts.  I thought the close vote to approve and the close proximity to Brockton’s High School were not good signs.  I also thought in April when I posted “Is Brockton Mass REALLY Ready for a Casino?” that Rush Gaming seemed a bit tainted by fines with underage gambling.

So, for the benefit of New England’s Gamblers, going the extra mile (500 miles to be exact), NE Time Gambling decided to travel to Pittsburgh to visit a Rush Street Gaming casino – Rivers Casino.  Oh, the things we must do for our followers.th (52)

Rush Street is proposing to construct a 250,000-square-foot gaming facility, 250-room hotel, event and entertainment space and 3,000 parking spots on the Brockton Fairgrounds property. thIf what I saw in Pittsburgh is what Rush Street has in mind, then I may have been wrong in my first appraisal.  (This property makes Plainridge Park look pitiful in size and amenities.) Rivers Casino is a clean, spacious, casino th (54)that is smaller than the proposed Brockton facility with 120,000 square feet of casino floor at Rivers Casino, the premiere gaming destination in the Pittsburgh area. Here is my quick analysis:

  • Gambling –  over 2,900 slot machines and 100 tables are available for play.  A poker room, and high limit area is available.   However, Video poker players will still have to visit Connecticut for playable pay tables. The best VP is 8/5 JOB – 8/6 at the $1 level.  The rest of the VP games are just not good enough to mention.
  • Slots Denomination Trickery? – Concerning slots, a wide variety is available.  However, one must be careful to watch the denomination. Penny & 2 penny slots are mixed together.  And, Rivers casino is rated in the bottom third of Pennsylvania’s casino slot payouts.
  • Friendly service is what we noticed immediately.
  • It is spacious – both between rows of machines and throughout the casino.
  • Dining included five venues from cafe to steakhouse, and all were bright and modern.  There are plenty of places to sit and relax, looking out on the the Ohio River.
  • The buffet, which is by no means Bellagio’s Buffet in Vegas,
    th (55)

    Great view of the Ohio River

    certainly was big enough to fit the type of mixed clientele that visit and, while not as big, would be similar to the buffets at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods in variety.  The Mongolian stir fry station and create-your-own-pasta stations are great alternatives.  Disappointing was a rather barren salad bar.

  • Four entertainment clubs & Bars with live music ranging from duel piano and jazz, to DJ and dance club.
  • One innovation is their beverage bar.  Free for all patrons to get coffee, soda, or water whenever they want.
    th (53)

    Beverage Bar at Rivers Casino – free to patrons!

    M Resort in Las Vegas was the first I had seen years ago to try this, but too many were coming in to take advantage (filling up gallon jugs with water and soda for home!) so M Resort discontinued it.  Rivers’s Casino station was smaller and seemed well appreciated.

 

All in all, I was impressed with Rivers Casino.  If Brockton’s Casino, developed by Rush Street, is similar, then Brockton would have a winner here – at least the developers and Mayor think so:

“My assumption is that because of the location of Brockton, which is much closer to 2 million people … we would drive higher revenue,” said lawyer and former 10-year Brockton Mayor Jack Yunits, who represents Brockton Fairgrounds owner George Carney in casino matters.

“When you look at the population areas that would potentially come to a casino, Brockton is 21 miles from Boston,” echoed consultant Joe Baerlein, a spokesman for Mass Gaming & Entertainment, the developer behind Brockton’s $650 million casino proposal.  According to Google Maps, the Brockton Fairgrounds is 24 miles from downtown Boston while Cottage Street in New Bedford is 59 miles.

So, I believe the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have a nice problem on their hands.  A beautiful luxurious Resort on the water of New Bedford, or a modern resort with the look of old Brockton – both run by companies that can run a casino right.  Both are equally good opportunities for two cities economically in need, and they are very different.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

New Bedford Gets Overwhelming Approval

New Bedford Casino 2If community support is important to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, New Bedford is the best place for the last license. Unlike Brockton, there was no organized opposition to the ballot question in New Bedford for a proposed $650 million Foxwoods-managed resort casino for New Bedford’s waterfront.

SOUTHCOAST TODAY, however thinks “It would be a terrible mistake to assume the path to Whaling City prosperity is now guaranteed.” Well, let’s take a look.

New Bedford rendering

New Bedford rendering

The referendum passed Tuesday with 73 percent voting in favor of it – 73%! by the way, New Bedford voters had backed casinos by wide margins on two non-binding public policy questions in 2001 and 1993!  So, no lack of support here.

The project would preserve parts of the brick power plant, including its towering smokestack, as well as create a public harborwalk and pedestrian connections to the former whaling capital’s historic downtown.

The project supposedly has the potential to create nearly 6,000 jobs for a metro area that has among the highest unemployment rates in the state, at about 6.3 percent.

Under a so-called “host community agreement” reached with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell’s administration, KG Urban has agreed to pay the city $4.5 million in initial payments if it wins the casino license.  The company would then pay the city at least $12.5 million annually once the casino opens, on top of paying real estate taxes and investing millions of dollars into public waterfront improvements and related environmental cleanup. Foxwoods, the Connecticut casino company run by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, has agreed to manage the operation.

This will be a difficult choice for the MGC.  Both cities need jobs, economic help, and already deal with high crime and traffic, which is expected to increase with a casino in their town – both where the proposed casinos will be.

New Bedford Fishing Fleet

New Bedford Fishing Fleet

New Bedford’s members of its historic fishing industry have stepped firmly into the city’s casino debate. KG Urban Enterprises plans to redevelop a polluted former power plant sitting on the waterfront off of Route 18, which divides downtown New Bedford from the piers jammed with fishing boats in the harbor.

Brockton has issues with the casino very close to its own public high school,

Proposed Brockton Casino Look

Proposed Brockton Casino Look

as well as the eastside residential area and the traffic impact on both.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission could still choose not to issue the license at all…..which would be just fine if you ask Rhode Island.

The saga continues.  Special thanks to Rhode Island Correspondent Miguel for his hard work and help.  NETime Gambling salutes you!

That’s all for now.

Binbin