The Associated Press

Deadline Arrives For Firms Seeking Mass. Casino License

BOSTON — Several companies interested in developing a resort casino or slots parlor in Massachusetts beat a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to submit preliminary applications and a non-refundable $400,000 application fee to the state Gaming Commission.

The late entries included one surprise – a company affiliated with the principals of Baltimore-based Cornish Companies, which had not publicly expressed interest in the state before Tuesday.

“We are very enthusiastic about the Massachusetts market and look forward to working with the State and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on our application,” Joe Weinberg, managing partner of a new entity called PPE Casino Resorts MA, said in a statement.

The company said it had not yet chosen a location in Massachusetts or decided whether it would seek a license for a resort casino or a slots parlor.

Other submissions before the deadline included a group led by Chicago casino and real estate tycoon Neil Bluhm, and a group hoping to open a slots parlor at Raynham Park, a former dog racing track.

Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment LLC, an affiliate of Bluhm’s Rush Street Gaming, announced that it had submitted a preliminary application along with the $400,000, non-refundable entry fee to the state’s Gaming Commission, but also said it had not yet chosen a location for a casino.

The company said it was evaluating “a select number of sites” in the Boston area and would make an announcement at a later date. It also did not specify whether it planned to bid for the eastern Massachusetts resort casino license or for a slots parlor.

“When developing our properties, we pride ourselves on customizing each project to the surrounding area and collaborating with the host community and other interested parties to build unique entertainment destinations,” said Greg Carlin, chief executive of Mass Gaming & Entertainment.

The company was formed by Bluhm, chairman of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming. It operates casinos in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Des Plaines, Ill., near O’Hare International Airport.

George Carney, president of Raynham Park, told The Associated Press that he filed his initial application and fee on Tuesday, and said he was confident he could win the competition for the sole slots parlor license.

“If you’re going to be in a fight and you think you’re going to be beat, you might as well stay home,” Carney said.

Carney has partnered with Greenwood Racing, which operates Pennsylvania’s largest gambling facility.

The Plainridge harness race track in Plainville, which is also seeking the slots-only gambling license, filed its application with the commission last year.

Tuesday’s filings, along with those that had been made previously, brought to at least 10 the number of companies that have officially entered the competition for a gaming license under the state’s 2011 expanded gambling law.

The commission planned to announce the final field of so-called Phase 1 applicants at a Tuesday evening news conference, though it has not ruled out the possibility of accepting late applications.

MGM International, Penn National Gaming, Hard Rock International and Mohegan Sun are seeking the regional resort casino license for western Massachusetts. MGM and Penn National have both proposed casinos in Springfield, Hard Rock is looking to build at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield and Mohegan Sun has plans to build in the town of Palmer.

Wynn Resorts, run by Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, and the Suffolk Downs thoroughbred track in East Boston are pursuing the eastern resort casino license. Wynn has secured a lease on the site of a former chemical plant in Everett.

The commission expects to spend several months investigating the financial qualifications and backgrounds of the Phase 1 applicants but will not yet be evaluating the specific development plans. Applicants cleared by the commission will then be invited to participate in a second, more competitive phase of the licensing process.

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