Brockton Voters Propose Casino


"Voting"
by League of Women Voters of California LWVC Licensed under Public Domain via www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Brockton Voters Propose Casino

This month, voters in Brockton, Massachusetts approved a plan to construct a $650 million slot casino at Brockton Fairgrounds. The proposal passed narrowly with 7,163 "yes" votes to 7,020 "no votes," a margin of victory of only 1% of the votes.

The city is scheduled to hold a binding vote on the casino in three months. Supporters of the casino have long argued that the city is in need of the 1,500 jobs the large hotel and casino development promises to bring. The developer has also pledged the city an annual sum that will go toward fire, police, and other services.

Proponents of the development, which has been backed by the national firm Rush Street Gaming, spent over one million dollars in a professional campaign. Opponents relied on a more grassroots approach, spending only thousands.

Despite these efforts, the vote's margin of victory was smaller than the support Brockton voters showed for casinos in the state last year, when 67% of voters rejected a question on the ballot that would have repealed the casino law in Massachusetts.

Mayor Bill Carpenter has already reached an agreement with developer Mass Gaming & Entertainment LLC that will allow the casino at the Fairgrounds in exchange for a minimum of $10 million a year for the city and other benefits.

The host agreement, signed in February, states that the casino developer provide Brockton with $3 million upfront and $10 million annually, or 2.5% of the casino's gross revenue, whichever is higher. This agreement, which is required under the 2011 Massachusetts casino gambling legislation, is designed to recompense cities that host casinos for the impact on the quality of life in the community, particularly an increase in traffic.

Mass Gaming & Entertainment was formed by George Carney, 86, in partnership with Rush Street Gaming. The developer currently manages four casinos in Canada and the Midwest with the capital necessary to fund the project.

Mass Gaming is planning to build a large complex at the Fairgrounds that resembles a traditional New England campus. The casino will have 2,000 slot machines as well as 100 roulette and blackjack tables and a 7-story hotel with 225 guest rooms.

The developer is competing with two other applicant's for the last commercial casino license in the state. Mass Gaming has until May 26 to submit a second application phase.

Brockton's main competitor for the remaining Massachusetts casino license is New Bedford. Both proposals are backed by well-financed developers with experience running casinos, and both cities face high unemployment that could benefit from a job infusion.

The key difference between the proposals is location and scope. New Bedford's casino would be on the waterfront, and the developer would be required to pay up to $50 million for environmental cleanup. Brockton's casino would be build more than a mile from the city's downtown on large race grounds that have remained undeveloped for more than thirty years. No environmental cleanup would be required for the development.

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