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Millbury Slots Get Red Light While Plainville Slots Get Go Ahead

Saturday, September 07, 2013

 

Millbury's slots plans have hit a red light as Rush Street Gaming/MG&E withdrew its $200-million slots parlor proposal.

Friday was a day of stark contrast for two slots-parlor developers eyeing Central Massachusetts.  The Mass. Gaming Commission has allowed the host-community agreement for a slots facility in Plainville to be transferred to Penn National Gaming, while Rush Street Gaming has withdrawn plans for a $200-million slots parlor in Millbury. That leaves Leominster, Plainville and Raynham as the only Bay State communities with active proposals for the state’s sole slots license.

Friday afternoon, the Mass. Gaming Commission approved letting the Town of Plainville proceed with a September 10 referendum vote on Penn National’s proposal. The $2.9-billion, publicly traded firm wants to develop a slots parlor on the site of the struggling, 14-year-old Plainridge Park, a harness-racing complex.

Penn National

On September 3, Penn National signed an option to buy the 89-acre complex from Ourway Realty for an undisclosed amount. The property transfer would occur if Penn National secures a slots license. Last month, the Gaming Commission disqualified an Ourway Realty slots proposal because of concern with business dealings by a former Ourway Realty executive.

When Ourway Realty was the slots developer, the Plainville referendum vote was scheduled for September 10. Penn National has asked the town’s Board of Selectmen to honor the terms of the host agreement with Ourway Realty and proceed with the vote on that date. Like the two other remaining Mass. slots developers, the company must win voters’ approval by October 4, under the state’s three-year-old Expanded Gaming Act.

Originally, Penn National was one of two big players seeking to develop a casino resort in Springfield. But, the Pennsylvania-based firm lost out when that city’s officials backed MGM Grand’s casino plan. Next, Penn National pitched a slots parlor in Tewskbury. However, the town’s voters rejected a required zoning change.

Rush Street

"We spent a lot of time in Millbury and recently it became clear to us that a majority of residents do not support a casino," said Rush Street Gaming's chair Neil Bluhm.

For Rush Street, parent of Mass Gaming and Entertainment, the slots journey has been equally rough. Rush Street/MG&E had originally sought to locate a $240-million slots parlor in Worcester. In June, the company departed the city after a failed two-and-a-half month effort to site the slots parlor in the struggling Green Island/Main South neighborhood.

In July, Rush Street/MG&E unveiled plans for a Millbury slots parlor near the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley shopping mall A week later, the town’s Board of Selectmen and Rush/MG&E signed a host-site agreement. On September 24, Millbury voters were to have cast ballots on the Rush Street/MG&E slots parlor in a referendum election.

Friday afternoon, Rush Street/MG&E Chair Neil Bluhm stated, in a news release, "We spent a lot of time in Millbury, and recently it became clear to us that a majority of residents do not support a casino. As we continued our outreach, we decided that for this particular project, we should move forward only if community support was overwhelming. It is not our style to campaign aggressively and win a referendum narrowly. We prefer to join together with our host community and build something collaboratively." 

Three days after Rush Street/MG&E announced the Millbury slots proposal, Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella signed a host-site agreement with The Cordish Cos., parent of PPE Casino Resorts MA, to locate a $125-million slots parlor there. Also on September 24, voters in that North County city will decide the fate of the Cordish slots parlor in a referendum election.

Steven Jones-D'Agostino is chief pilot of Best Rate of Climb: Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media and Radio Production. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRDAgostino.

 

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