Somerset Developers Withdraw From Mass. Casino Race

Developers of a proposed Somerset casino have withdrawn from the competition for Massachusetts' third and final resort casino license, leaving two proposals in the running: one for New Bedford's waterfront and another for the Brockton Fairgrounds.

Crossroads Massachusetts LLC, in a brief letter released by state regulators Thursday, does not cite a reason from dropping its application.

No one from Crossroads was present at a meeting of the state Gaming Commission and a representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said he wasn't surprised by the plan's demise. Commission members in recent months have expressed doubts about the viability of the project as its leadership team changed and it scrambled to assemble financing.

"Nothing surprises me in this business. We never know who is in or out until the last minute," he said.

With Somerset officially out of the competition, attention now shifts to New Bedford and Brockton.

Brockton voters on Tuesday narrowly approved a casino referendum calling for a $650 million resort developed by Mass Gaming and Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based company that operates casinos in Pennsylvania and other states.

On Thursday, the gaming commission allowed the New Bedford casino proposal to move forward in the competition.

After warning the applicant about continued delays, the commission voted to deem their initial application "substantially complete," on the condition that they submit the last of their required financial details in two weeks.

"We're really just down to the final economic terms," promised Scott Butera, a former Foxwoods CEO who is now a partner with KG Urban Enterprises, the New York-based firm that wants to build a $650 million Foxwoods resort on the site of a former NStar power plant.

"Our patience is not unlimited," said Crosby. "Word to the wise: this has got to get moving quickly."

Crosby said the commission hopes to award the license by the end of 2015.

And, in a related development, an Indian tribe seeking federal approval to build a resort casino in Taunton, a city also in the state's southeast, said the gaming commission violated state law by allowing slot parlors to offer electronic versions of table games like blackjack and roulette.

The Mashpee Wampanoag, in a letter to state Attorney General Maura Healey's office released Thursday, said state law limits slot parlors to 1,250 machines and no casino table games.

But the state Gaming Commission approved a regulation last year allowing for up to 1,500 "gaming positions" on 1,250 gambling machines.

Healey's office said it's reviewing the complaint.

Crosby and other commission members defended their actions, saying the now-disputed regulation clarified ambiguity in the state law and was approved after a "rigorous" public hearing process in which no one objected.

The complaint comes as Plainridge Park Casino, a slot parlor in nearby Plainville, is slated to open June 24 with 1,250 slot machines, of which about a dozen are multi-user electronic table games.

This article was originally published on May 14, 2015.



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