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Casino Gaming: Top Stories in Central Mass in 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

 

It was a wild, roller coaster of a year for Worcester residents when it came to the issue of casino gaming. When Governor Deval Patrick first proposed casino gambling back in 2007, the state was divided into three casino zones with a single license to be awarded in each area to a gambling developer. Worcester was included in the western region, considered a prime location to become home to a casino and draw crowds from Western Massachusetts and the Boston suburbs, as well as New Hampshire and Maine.

However, when a similar version of the bill cleared Beacon Hill in November of 2011, Worcester was then included in the highly competitive eastern sector, forcing the city to battle proposals for potentially much more lucrative casinos in Boston and its suburbs. Thanks in part to its deep political roots and a small army of lobbyists, Suffolk Downs was considered the region’s favorite to claim the license. GoLocalWorcester investigated specific reasons why the City fell behind in the gambling license race and examined the roles played by Lieutenant Governor and former Worcester Mayor Tim Murray and other key players.

Some Worcester residents expressed disappointment at no longer being competitive for a casino license,  and subsequently missing out on the possibility of bringing new jobs, tax revenues and businesses into the City. But local officials worry that Worcester won’t just be missing out on new economic activity, but will also have to absorb a hit to its current business climate. Proposals for mega casinos popping up in the outer suburbs of Boston had Worcester’s big performance venues like the DCU Center, the Hanover Theater and Mechanics Hall bracing for the impact. Worcester’s performance venues feared that new Massachusetts casinos will aggressively attract customers in the entertainment sector, to the detriment of performance venues in Worcester and elsewhere.

 

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