Two Years Ago

Two years ago, I posted the following article about the changes between 2013 & February, 2016.  it’s interesting to see what had happened in that time period, what was expected to happen between then and now, and actually where we stand two years later. So, here is the actual article, with updates as we go. Remember this was originally written in 2016. Enjoy…..


(February 8th 2016) Let’s go back in time first…..

Two years ago in New England.

Two years ago in New England.

Two years ago, (2014) it was all about Wynn Everett never happening, Mohegan Sun’s rejection in Palmer or Revere, and MGM Springfield causing concern over traffic, historic buildings, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Last year, (2015) MGM Springfield & Wynn Everett are given casino licenses, but will open two years later. Connecticut looks at the possibility for a third casino, law suits between MGM & CT, and Wynn & Boston’s Mayor Walsh erupt, Rhode Island’s Twin River buys Newport Grand and talks of moving it to Tiverton, while Massachusetts opens its first Casino in Plainville, Mass. only to find disappointment because of declining revenue after its opening. (As we now realize, Plainridge Park has had a series of months with growing revenue. Wynn & Walsh made nice, nice, Twin River Management is progressing through those plans in 2018.)

imagesIt’s 2016.  Wynn & MGM have begun breaking ground, fewer lawsuits remain, and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville continues to perform to less than expected (and highly bloated) results.  CT is trying to find a location for its third casino, and everything seems to be moving forward to the wonderfully saturated and competitive casino market we know as New England.

But what would the casino industry be like without some turmoil?  So, here’s the next chapter of  “As The New England Casino Industry Turns.”  Recently:

IN MASSACHUSETTS

  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs officially designated Mashpee Wampanoag lands as a reservation on Friday. In September, the U.S. Department of Interior agreed to take 321 acres of tribe-owned land into trust on its behalf.
    Rendition Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

    Wampanoag Casino in Taunton

    But not so fast, a group of Taunton property owners filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday challenging the designation of neighboring land as a Native American reservation, a legal move meant to block a $500 million casino planned for the location,  describing the tribe’s plans for a massive casino and hotel complex as “grossly out-of-character” for a quiet residential area. Sound familiar?  (i.e., Palmer MA, Tiverton RI) (First Light continues to be stuck in “Legislative Limbo.”)

  • Then there’s Brockton – you remember that city, don’t you?  They’re the ones patiently waiting to find out what Massachusetts and the Mass.Gaming Commission are going to do with the Mashpee proposal in Taunton.  th (11)The Brockton casino proposal is the only remaining commercial license applicant pursuing a license provided to the southeastern region by the state’s gaming law. If both eventually appear years in the future, it’s said they will be able to “co-exist,” meaning not prosper, not financially aid the state of Massachusetts, and play second fiddle to MGM & Wynn forever.  The new lawsuit mentioned above by Taunton could keep the decision in limbo for years.  Rush Street Gaming, developer of Brockton’s Casino proposal, won’t stick around that long. (The MGC decided not to award any SE gaming license, with Brockton being the last casino standing, but not getting the award.)

IN CONNECTICUT

thA third casino site for a jointly run Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun Casino to compete with MGM Springfield Resort being built across the line in MA, will be decided on later than expected.  Now remember, MGM Resorts filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut in 2015 alleging that the state had not followed fair policy by giving casino establishments an equal right to bid for a third casino in Connecticut, suggesting partiality to CT’s two “casino” tribes.  Recently, The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, ignored by CT and feds, established a business entity with the aim of being allowed to establish a commercial casino within the borders of CT and they remain dedicated to the idea of operating the third CT gambling faculty. Richard Blumenthal, the state’s congressional delegation, have opposed new rules by the BIA that would have made winning federal recognition easier for tribes like the Schaghticokes.  In one week, the tribe from Kent, CT was approved and denied, with Connecticut saying their made a “boo-boo.”   Maybe MGM Springfield has a point with their lawsuit. (The whole thing was eventually dismissed, leading this blogger to wonder if there is still a political predjudice towards tribal peoples. Ironic that it would be alive and well in New England, you know – Pilgrims, first contact, etc…)

IN RHODE ISLAND

The Battlefield for Casino Supremacy in Rhode Island & Southeast Mass

The Battlefield for Casino Supremacy in Rhode Island & Southeast Mass

Twin River Casino, owner of Newport Grand Casino, would ask voters statewide and in Tiverton to decide the fate of the new casino with referendums on the November 2016 ballot. The question would need to pass both statewide and in Tiverton for the casino to be approved.  In a Tiverton town meeting, townspeople sounded genuinely split on the issue as they talked about the practicalities and the morality of hosting a gambling venue. (Tiverton and Twin River Casino’s new Hotel is all happening – just r-e-a-l-l-y sloooowwwwwwwly)

IN MAINE

York County, Maine om the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

York County, Maine on the Mass & NH borders where the third Casino in Maine is proposed

Hey, is Maine still looking to add a third casino – closer to the Massachusetts border?  According to a detailed report in the Bangor Daily News, petition circulators were hired in the state of Maine to gather signatures to try and bring another casino to the state.

Soon after the signature campaign started that circulators began to allege issues that they were hired by the company Harness Racing Jobs Fairnessto gather signatures, promised as much as $10 per signature! The unorthodox campaign to give a Las Vegas gambling developer the sole right to build a York County casino submitted its signatures Monday to put the proposal to Maine voters in November.  NETG prediction – referendum? sure…..casino?  Nah. (And we were right – twice and no Maine casino in York county.)

So, unless you were gone for the month of January and February (2016), that’s the news to peak your interest. Same issues, just different players.

Binbin

Taunton Vs. Mashpee Wampanoag Casino – More “Pride or Prejudice?”

330px-PrideAndPrejudiceTitlePagePride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, & education among others.

Is there a parallel between Indian affairs in New England? Maybe only in the title.

This past week, property owners in Taunton who are attempting to block the Mashpee Wampanoag from building a $1 billion casino are pushing their legal challenge. The group asked a court to halt construction on the project, “First Light,” temporarily. If granted by a judge, an injunction would force the tribe to halt construction until the lawsuit is resolved, which could take years.

First Light

First Light Resort Casino

Why? When Native Tribes across the country are being allowed to thrive and raise the quality of life for their communities, why is New England seemingly so anti-Native American? Continue reading

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