New Bedford Casino Developers Saw the Area’s Future & Pulled Away

No Casino Here - Ever!

No Casino Here – Ever!

In a surprising change in the Massachusetts Gaming Expansion, the New Bedford waterside casino complex is no more.  The developers have forced KG Urban to take their application off the table, and the southeast license, Region C, now only has one suitor in Brockton.

What happened?

Well, duh, you see, it takes financial backing to build a casino, and when your financial backers pull out, there is no casino to be built.  Simple, right?

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What it was supposed to look like.

In its letter to the state Gaming Commission, KG Urban, said investors proved unconvinced the venture would work in an increasingly competitive environment. Let me put this in layman’s terms – New England’s casino market is saturated and being hyper-competitive, especially in the eastern part of Massachusetts bordering CT & RI.

In an article I think connected to KG Urban’s investors concerns, Howard Stutz wrote that “Moody’s Investors Service said the casino industry’s cash flow prospects could climb as much as 4 percent over next 12 to 18 months……18 U.S. states with casinos reported a 4.1 percent increase in monthly gaming revenue during May, following a 4 percent increase in April. In May, every state but New Jersey and Connecticut saw improvement. With these numbers in hand, the advisory firm changed its overall outlook of the U.S. gaming industry from a negative to a stable rating.”

You see, gambling is on the rise everywhere – but not necessarily here in New England.  Maine is experiencing a lull and decline with it’s two small casinos having run the entire state, New Hampshire, and borders on Canada. The key in the above statement by Moody’s is that the northeast isn’t improving like the rest of the nation – “every state but New Jersey and Connecticut saw improvement.”  Rhode Island’s statistics are not reported as in other states, but this area in New England (Eastern CT, RI, Southeast MA) is not destined for such a rise in revenue. The two exceptions in the northeast are New York State and Pennsylvania (which has shown a slight resurgence in the last months after a couple of years in decline.)

ri_bluLast week I posted an article to get a rise out of people – I admit, I’m not expecting Eight Casinos Between CT Casinos and Everett, Massachusetts, but with all the possibilities listed, it boggles the mind. At least now we can take one of those possibilities out of the running.

By the way, building a big modern casino doesn’t mean people will flock to it and make it their new gambling destination.  The proof in the east can be spelled with 5 letters: R-E-V-E-L!

Here are a few facts that changed the New Bedford backers minds:

  1. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is still looking to build casino resort in Taunton.
  2. Mass Gaming & Entertainment, the developers proposing Brockton casinos, are still pledging to remain in the hunt for a casino.
  3. Connecticut and Rhode Island have both discussed the potential of expanding their existing casino industries. And while she was against it all along, it makes sense that Attorney General Maura Healey cautioned the Massachusetts Gaming Commission about the threat of an over-saturated gaming market.

And now a few side rants to get off my chest related to the whole thing:

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Stephen Crosby of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission

  1. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission seems so naive to think that this process would be so simple –  pick four casinos, build them quickly like Legoland, and take the rest of New England’s money with just a whimper and a white flag from the other states?
  2. One newspaper article I read accused Foxwoods of failing on this deal, which is completely false.  Consider Foxwoods a subcontractor for the job – only the job never materialized!
  3. Mohegan_palmer_casino_rendering

    Palmer Casino Proposal

    Finally, another jab at the MGC plan.  Brockton is similar to Palmer, Mass in economic need and instability.  Both are tired old mill towns trying to reinvent itself, like so many towns in New England. Mohegan Sun’s casino proposal in Palmer was denied by the MGC, instead choosing MGM in Springfield.  Now Springfield won’t see it happen until late 2018 or even later, while I’m sure the Palmer casino would have already been started and would have been competing and drawing with both New York State and Connecticut, and bringing the state of Massachusetts revenue earlier than 2018.

So far, Massachusetts has a “box of slots” (as MGM Muren calls them) working well to bring in the casino revenue to Massachusetts, and stalled projects all over the state. I end by quoting from the Broadway show “Wicked.” The now famous song “Defying Gravity” begins with Elphaba and Glinda saying to each other “I hope you’re happy – I hope you’re happy, now!”

Well, so far Massachusetts, are ya?

that’s all for now.

Binbin

Somerset Casino Not Looking Like a Good Bet

Mass.Gaming Districts.C_0If this was a horse race, you could say Brockton is closing in on the leader New Bedford and Somerset was fading fast.  Somerset may not be able to close in at all after it’s latest set back. This three horse race just turned into two!

Quite the momentum swing last Monday –

  • New Bedford gets a rich new investor, and a new leader in management with Scott Butera
  • Brockton gets ready for a city vote after meeting its deadline for filing license application materials
  • And Somerset casino backers lose their equity partner, saying that they had “kind of pulled out at the last minute.”

According to Mike Lawrence of SouthCoastToday, “KG Urban had asked for an extension of the financial deadline in January, as well. So did Somerset on the Move and Crossroads groups, which then merged to back the current Somerset proposal as Crossroads Massachusetts. For KG Urban and New Bedford, it appears the extra time was enough. For Crossroads and Somerset, it wasn’t.”

Brocton still appears to be in New Bedford’s rear-view mirror.  Steven T. Snyder, GLPI’s senior vice president of corporate development, expressed confidence in the New Bedford site in a letter to the Gaming Commission.  If chosen and all goes along their plan, KG Urban could end up with the best resort/casino of three – including MGM and Everett. Remember, Plainridge Park, the fourth Mas casino is a slots only casino.

NewBedfordcasinorenderingarchitectsllpA“With its glass casino on the wharf boasting 180-degree views of the harbor and its proximity to New Bedford’s commercial fishing fleet, the Buzzards Bay hurricane barrier, State Pier, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, KG’s Cannon Street property will create a gaming and resort experience unique not only to the commonwealth, but in the entire country,” Snyder wrote. “And one that only New England can possibly offer.”

And, I think he’s right.  Uniquely New England – sounds good to me!

That’s all for now.

Binbin

Southeast Mass License Down to Brockton vs New Bedford?

Massachussetts Gaming Expansion Starts 2015

Massachussetts Gaming Expansion Starts 2015

Brockton used to be known for its leading the country in shoe manufacturing, during the Civil War, and is considered the “City of Champions” due to native boxers Marciano & Hagler.  New Bedford has history as well.  Originally settled by the Wampanoags, it became settle by Portuguese whalers making it one the best whaling sites in the east. Yet, in the last few decades, both have been best known for lagging economies, blight, and lost identities.

Cue Massachusetts casinos.  Yes, that’s right…..surprise.

Sean Murphy of the Boston Globe wrote about the vision of each city to have the last answer to all their problems – the southeast Mass Region C Casino license.

Mr. Murphy writes “The mayors and city councils of both cities are unanimous in their support for the surge of private investment casinos would bring. And leaders in both cities are in step with voters: Brockton and New Bedford handed a resounding “no” to the statewide referendum last November that would have repealed the 2011 law that allows casinos.”

Ahh, but only one brass ring for two high unemployment areas.

broctonWhere in Brockton? Raynham Park or the Brockton Fairgrounds.  See the picture above of the artist’s rendition:

In New Bedford, a casino will attract people not only to the hundreds of slot machines and roulette tables, they say, but also to the restaurants and other businesses along the waterfront of one of the country’s most storied harbors.  See the rendition below:

NewBedfordcasinorenderingarchitectsllpA

Sean points out one significant difference between Brockton and New Bedford is the readiness of the respective sites. Construction of a casino on the Brockton Fairgrounds could start anytime, without delay or significant additional costs to the developer. The waterfront site in New Bedford where the casino would be built requires an environmental cleanup that KG Urban says could cost as much as $50 million. It pledges to cover that cost.

Although the New Bedford site will take longer to prepare, and the seemingly prejudice the MGA has for anything connected to CT tribal casinos, the resort and surrounding area would change the tourism connection for ever.  New Bedford has my vote.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

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