Could A Slots Parlor Take Off In Worcester?
Friday, March 15, 2013
The state's sole slots parlor license is set to be issued prior to the casino resort licenses, and in a memo to the City Council, City Manager Michael O'Brien said he was notified of Mass Gaming & Entertainment's intentions Wednesday morning.
Mass Gaming's decision to site their proposed slots parlor in Worcester is just the first step, and O'Brien said he looked forward to hearing more details on the company proposal.
"I have been clear that any proposal would have to integrate with our broader economic development agenda underway and it must compliment, and not undermine or siphon away from, our theaters, cultural venues, restaurants and businesses," he said. "They have been listening intently. The concepts they have discussed, to include a full service hotel, are on the right path."
Greg Carlin, CEO of Rush Street Gaming, said he will be in Worcester next week to meet with officials and further discuss Mass Gaming's plan for a Worcester slots parlor.
"We think it's a great location," he said, noting both Worcester's status as the second-largest city in the Commonwealth and its central location within the state. "It's got a good feel to it."
Veterans of urban gaming operations
Rush Street Gaming is not new to urban gaming operations. The company owns the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia and the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, as well as the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Ill. serving the Chicago area.
Carlin said there was a lot of concern from the community around the site that was developed into the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia about possible negative impacts of locating a casino there, such as traffic problems and increases in crime.
"The record is that none of those things happened," he said, noting that several people who were fighting the loudest against the proposed gaming operation are now supporters, and the possibility of a second casino in the City of Brotherly Love not far from SugarHouse is currently a topic of discussion.
Carlin said he thinks the Worcester project, which includes a hotel component, will become a regional tourist destination and will positively impact the City by providing new jobs, increased tax revenue and a new amenity for visitors and residents alike.
"The way we think about the project is we really want to fit into the local community," he said, which includes working closely with public officials.
A specific site within Worcester has not been formally announced, the 14-acre Wyman-Gordon property off of Southbridge St. is seen as a likely potential home. Earlier this year, it was announced that the property was under agreement with Cambridge-based Carpenter & Company, Inc., according to a letter from City Manager Michael O'Brien to the City Council issued in January.
In a statement sent to the City by Carpenter & Company President and CEO Richard L. Friedman, the developer said his company has had "serious long term interest in developing a luxury hotel in Worcester." Friedman's statement noted that the Wyman-Gordon property was under consideration for gaming use by "one or more highly qualified gaming companies" who had submitted applications to the state's Gaming Commission prior to the Jan. 15th deadline.
Costs could be greater
While the proposed slot parlor could potentially result in over $200 million in local investment and the creation of close to 600 jobs, Councilor-At-Large Konstantina Lukes was not sold on the idea.
"There's so many other costs that you have to consider other than cash," she said. "I see so many difficulties with an urban slots parlor even if they're dangling a hotel in front of us."
Lukes noted that the area near the Wyman-Gordon property is the busiest traffic area in the City and is located in the middle of an active neighborhood. Mitigation costs may be high as well, said Lukes, and the potential attraction of a slots parlor for less desirable elements would carry its own cost.
"I think it's a step backward in the progress we've made in identifiying ourselves as a gateway city that's on the move," she said.
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