Last Saturday, voters in the City of Everett approved Steve Wynn’s casino proposal by an overwhelming margin, 86.5 percent to 13.5 percent. Voter turnout was high for a special election, at 32 percent. The landslide victory was especially impressive given that historically, elections where gaming is the primary focus tend to bring out mostly the vocal anti-gaming factions while the pro-gaming voters sit on the sidelines. Compare that overall turnout to the special Senate election this week, where statewide turnout was around 27 percent (much lower in the City of Boston).
So with all systems go in Everett, the fate of Wynn’s casino will be determined by the quality of the competing proposals for the region. It has been something of a rocky road for the East Boston casino project led by Suffolk Downs and Caesars Entertainment, as no local agreement has been reached and talks reportedly broke down earlier this month. Out in the suburbs, communities neighboring Milford, site of the third casino bid for the Eastern region, have stepped up their opposition to that project.
Elsewhere, Springfield city officials chose MGM Resorts’ casino proposal in May, hammering out a host community agreement with that company instead of competing rival Penn National Gaming. The city’s voters will have their say on the casino project on July 16.
West Springfield appears to be close to a host community agreement with Hard Rock International for a casino project there, and officials hope to wrap things up by July 10. It would be another 60 days before a local election could be scheduled to approve the agreement. Palmer officials also hope for a July agreement with Mohegan Sun, the third and final remaining applicant for the Western Massachusetts casino license.
For the slot parlors, two proposals have already been nixed by community leaders before advancing, one in Boxboro and the other in Worcester, and developers are looking elsewhere. Cordish Companies, which had set its sights on Boxboro, is now targeting Salisbury. Town officials there will decide if they want a slot parlor on Monday.
Raynham Park signed a host community agreement with Raynham officials earlier this month, but has not set an election date. Plainridge Racecourse has not yet announced an agreement with the town of Plainville. All applicants for the slot parlor license must submit their Phase 2 applications with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission no later than October 4. With a 60-day requirement for setting an election, these projects must get their host community agreements in place by the end of July.
Casino applicants for the Western and Boston-area licenses have until December 31 to complete their Phase 2 applications.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island jumped into the full casino business with the start of table games at Twin River. On June 19, 66 live table games made their debut inside the casino which has been home to more than 4,500 video lottery terminals for several years. The casino should enjoy at least a year of operation before seeing any competition from Massachusetts facilities, depending on how quickly the slot parlor gets up and running following a license award expected at the end of this year.