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
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.
the tribe’s request is under review
they are inviting comments for a 30-day period on the tribe’s request to issue a reservation proclamation
no date has been identified in which a reservation proclamation will be issued by the Department of the Interior
issuance of a reservation proclamation is a separate and distinct action from acquiring land in trust…”
It 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.
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.
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?
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.)
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:
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is still looking to build casino resort in Taunton.
Mass Gaming & Entertainment, the developers proposing Brockton casinos, are still pledging to remain in the hunt for a casino.
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:
Stephen Crosby of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission
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?
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!
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!”
Eight casinos inside this radius by 2018 – not including Maine and NY Expansion!
Wow, has the Bay State’s Casino Expansion News been busy these past two weeks. Just when a topic comes up and I start to post about, it gets put on the back burner because something else comes up. It reminds me what the suits told me at Plainridge Park – “Massachusetts is a different place…”
If after reading this “Timeline of Turmoil” you have any questions or comments, feel free send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment on our website at NE Timegambling.com, or find our beginning Facebook community and join us to add to the discussions.
Waste Site for the expected Wynn Casino
July 7th – of the Associated Press reported that a group of Massachusetts residents opposed to casinos are challenging the sale of state property to Wynn Resorts, saying the MBTA failed to comply with the state’s public bidding law when it proposed selling some $6 million worth of land to Wynn for its $1.7 billion casino project on the Everett waterfront. But the lawsuit suggests officials representing the MBTA, Wynn and the city of Everett were in discussions to convey the property without a public bid as early as 2013.
Tribal leaders want to turn the long dormant Wampanoag community center into a bingo hall.
July 7th – Nelsen Sigelman of MyTimes.com reported that Aquinnah selectmen (Martha’s Vineyard) voted unanimously to deliver a cease-and-desist letter to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) that orders the tribe to stop work intended to transform a long-unfinished shell of a community center into a high-stakes bingo facility. Spurned in its quest for a piece of the mainland gaming pie in favor of the Mashpee Wampanoags, the Aquinnah tribal membership narrowly voted to turn its unfinished community center into a Class 2 gaming facility. The Mashpee Wampanoags are still waiting for the go ahead on their Region C entry in Taunton, MA.
Steve Wynn – Annoyed in Everett?
July 7th – Peter Howe of NECN reported “Legal skirmishing around Las Vegas impresario Steve Wynn’s $1.6 billion casino plan for Everett cranked up” another notch. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he has no intention of backing off a 158-page multi-count lawsuit Boston has filed contending the Wynn casino process was shot through with favoritism and shenanigans.
July 13th– NECN reports that the city of Boston says “interviews conducted by state investigators show Wynn Resorts was aware a convicted felon had a stake in land it eyed for a casino.” The city is suing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to have Wynn’s gambling license revoked. It says commission investigators interviewed at least five witnesses who testified Wynn’s representatives were informed of or actively discussed Charles Lightbody’s ownership stake in the Everett waterfront land before securing an option on it.
View of the Sullivan Square Rotary. (photo by Stuart Cahill)
July 13th – Sean P. Murphy of the Boston Globe reports state Attorney General Maura Healey said that “The state should delay its consideration of a crucial environmental permit needed for the construction of a $1.7 billion casino in Everett until an independent traffic study is completed.” The casino would be built less than a mile from Charlestown’s Sullivan Square, a crossroads of several major roadways in the shadow of a hulking, elevated section of Interstate 93, from which still more traffic pours into the often-congested square. “For this project, that approach is insufficient,” Healey wrote. “We believe it is critical that MassDOT and the Commonwealth benefit from an independent analysis of the traffic impact, paid for by Wynn, before considering” any plans to mitigate traffic impacts.
Twin River Casino, RI
Larger than most people realize – two large casino floors
Twin River Casino in Rhode Island continued to push towards the addition of a hotel to accompany its Event Center, 300,000 square-feet of gaming space, 4,500 video slot machines and virtual table games (including blackjack and roulette), as well as 80 (soon to be 120) live table games including blackjack, roulette, craps and more. In addition, the purchase of the slots parlor in Newport, RI was completed in Twin River’s attempt to move it to Tiverton, RI on the MA/RI border to compete with Plainridge Park, Massachusetts’s first casino – also slots only.
Connecticut not only has seen a slight rise in gaming revenue from both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, legislation continues to move forward for a joint full casino slightly smaller than MGM Springfield. The northern border of CT is the focal point to counter the expected competition from MGM Springfield.
Back in the Bay State…………….
July 16th – Big Bad MGM Resorts International will try to prevent the construction of a tribal casino in Connecticut that would compete with MGM’s own resort being built in Springfield, Massachusetts. Hartford Courant’s Kenneth R Gosselin reported more rounds fired between CT & MA casino officials. MGM already lobbied hard with CT legislators to stop the bill for a satellite casino, but failed. “We’re not going to go peacefully,” William Hornbuckle, president of MGM Resorts International, told Bloomberg News, adding that MGM was “contemplating our options…..We are ideally positioned to go into Hartford and attack.” On the day of the MGM Springfield groundbreaking, MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, who is from Connecticut, just likeHornbuckle, ridiculed Connecticut’s plan, calling it a “box of slots,” but he didn’t threaten any action.”
Plainridge Park Casino
Interesting that the only Massachusetts casino that will open for the next three years will be its own “box of slots” at Plainridge Park Casino in Plainridge. Now, why would a big successful industry giant like MGM invest so much time in this? Three things – greed, arrogance, and…….WORRY!
July 17th – Casino News Daily reported that in its newest court filings, the city of Boston claims that Wynn Resorts
representatives were well-aware that a convicted felon would benefit from his stake in the land where the Las Vegas-based gambling operator is to build its Everett casino. At least five people revealed in interviews with commission investigators that representatives for the casino giant were informed about Charles Lightbody holding a majority stake in the land prior to signing a deal for the 30-acre site where the Everett gaming facility is to be built. Under the state law, criminals are not allowed to profit from casinos. Boston said that the latest findings are crucial to its case, as they indicate that the state Gaming Commission had neglected important issues while considering Wynn Resorts’ application.
That’s just a quick (quick?) update into what happened lately. If you have any questions or comments, feel free send me an email at email@example.com, leave a comment on our website at netimegambling.com, or find our beginning Facebook community and join us to add to the discussions.