Massachusetts casinos called state's 'worst decision'

Jul 15, 2013 6:37 PM

It may be only one man’s opinion but a Massachusetts city official calls the state’s proposal to build three casinos and a slots parlor “the worst decision this Commonwealth ever made.”

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, speaking before the city’s board of aldermen last week, said: “I will do everything in my power, along with you and the public, to fight a casino near this community.”

The condemnation of the gambling law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick last year comes just as the citizens of Springfield vote on Tuesday whether to support a multi-million casino project proposed by MGM Resorts International.

Curtatone has legitimate concerns since his city of Somerville sits across the Mystic River from the city of Everett where Steve Wynn plans to build a billion dollar casino complex. And, as it has been noted previously, adjoining cities have no say in the location or eventual impact such a development would have.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Curtatone was quoted by a correspondent for Boston.com as saying at the aldermen’s meeting.

“There are going to be a lot of sad personal stories. I think we all understand what happens,” he said

He added that he planned to take a “dual track” approach to the proposed Wynn casino. He will strongly work to ensure environmental impacts are addressed and that his city receives maximum mitigation should the project become a reality. He also plans to work against the project.

It was his opinion the Everett casino proposal has a leg up on the competing plans for the Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston because the community has already given its approval. Such an approval is required by state officials before an application can be considered for a license.

Reportedly, last month, the Somerville mayor submitted a petition to FBT Everett Realty, the company that owns the contaminated 35-acre site along the Mystic River where the casino is to be located. He asked that the site be given a special designation that would provide neighboring communities a say in the planning.

The city of Medford has also sought an opportunity to discuss the Wynn project in the neighboring Everett.

Meanwhile, activity related to the expansion of gambling in Massachusetts continued at a furious pace.

Officials at Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville announced they had reached an agreement that will pay the town more than $4 million in the first year if the harness track wins the one and only slots parlor license.

Plainridge, whose founder Gary Piontkowski was considered a strong bidder for the license before he retired reportedly because of illness, is competing with George Carney’s Raynham Park LLC for the license.

Others also seeking the slots parlor license are the Cordish Cos. of Baltimore, Maryland, operators of Maryland’s largest casino, whose officials have been meeting with town officials of Leominster, while a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming of Chicago has been eyeing Millbury for its slots facility.

And on Friday, Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) announced it was considering the town of Tewksbury for its slots parlor bid.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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