NEW: Mohegan Sun Announces Details Of New Casino in Palmer
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Mohegan Sun Massachusetts has reached a host-community agreement with the Town of Palmer for a nearly $1-billion resort casino in the Central Massachusetts community. The pact calls for Mohegan Sun Mass. to make more than $16 million in annual mitigation payments to the town, and sets a timetable for a required town referendum election on the agreement.
The host agreement, which is subject to approval by the Palmer Town Council and the Management Board of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, calls for signing and pre-opening payments of close to $3 million. The first $200,000 is payable upon approval and setting of a referendum date by the Town Council.
The Town Council is scheduled to vote on the host-community agreement and establish a date for a town-wide referendum election at its next meeting on September 3.
‘A genuine partnership’
“More than four years ago, we began building a relationship with the great community of Palmer,” states Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. “Today, I am happy to say we have forged a genuine partnership to bring jobs, economic growth and a new visitor economy to this town and the entire region. We are confident this host community agreement, combined with our nearly $1-billion proposal, will deliver the very best for Palmer and Massachusetts.”
“This is a community with a proud tradition built on working people, and we have an eager and quality workforce,” said Elaine Boone, chairwoman of the Yes for Palmer Campaign to support Mohegan Sun Mass., and a former elected official and lifelong resident of Palmer. “This agreement vividly illustrates the strong commitment Mohegan Sun has made to Palmer. For a community this size to have the opportunity to receive this package of benefits – and to play such an important part in positively impacting the entire region – is remarkable.”
The $16-million annual mitigation payment includes fixed payments totaling $15.2 million and a percentage of gaming revenue equal to 0.25 percent of the first $400 million in revenue. These payments represent the largest per-capita and per-household mitigation of any Western Mass. proposal, and could help bring fiscal stability to Palmer, plus much-needed infrastructure improvements benefitting Palmer and the surrounding region.
The additional infrastructure work will include an estimated $23 million for expansion and improvements to existing roads, sewer and water systems in Palmer, including: enhancements to the water-distribution system of the fire department as well as water district 1 and its neighboring water districts; improvements to the municipal sewer system; and road improvements and traffic mitigation – including substantial improvements to the Exit 8 entrance and exit interchange of the Mass. Pike.
For every resident in Palmer, the town will receive more than $1,200 annually in mitigation payments, taxes and revenue sharing from Mohegan Sun Mass. The guaranteed annual mitigation payment alone exceeds the entire local tax revenue for the Town of Palmer in fiscal year 2014. In addition to the revenue sharing on the first $400 million in revenue, the town will receive an additional 2 percent from every dollar of gross gaming revenue from the gaming facility above $400 million annually.
‘Yes to a better future’
Funds from the annual mitigation payments will be appropriated at the discretion of the Town of Palmer. Palmer will annually allocate the following estimated amounts from the Mohegan Sun Mass. proceeds:
• $1.125 million for municipal programs and economic development
• $875,000 for Palmer Fire District No. 1 for expansion of staff and equipment
• $816,000 to hire additional police officers and fund the police department
• $530,000 to assist in financing a new public-works garage facility
• $450,000 for expansion of emergency medical services
• $295,200 for the Bondsville, Three Rivers and Thorndike fire districts
• $250,000 for the Department of Public Works’
• $168,800 to the Inspectional Services Department to hire building inspectors and a health inspector and clerk
Additionally, the Town of Palmer expects Mohegan Sun Mass. to pay the town an estimated $900,000 to $1.4 million in annual hotel-occupancy taxes and an additional $225,000 in annual meals taxes.
“This historic agreement marks the formal start of perhaps the most important local election campaign in Palmer’s history,” states David Whitney, treasurer of the Yes for Palmer Campaign, who is a retired public-school teacher and 35-year Palmer resident. “We have an extremely motivated group of volunteers and supporters who want to help bring quality jobs, new economic opportunity and tens of thousands of visitors to Palmer. Yes for Palmer means ‘Yes’ to a better future.”
Mohegan Sun Mass. is proposing a nearly $1-billion resort casino in Palmer, which will feature gaming and resort amenities, two hotels, a 70,000-square-foot adventure-themed water park and 300,000 square feet of entertainment, dining and fashion retail options. The proposed resort, according to the developer, will deliver “thousands of jobs” as well as vendor and other business opportunities to Western and Central Mass.’
In collaboration with the Mass. Casino Careers Training Institute - a consortium of area community colleges - and through its own Palmer job fairs and recruiting events, Mohegan Sun Mass. vows to work with Palmer to promote training, employment and contracting opportunities for local residents.
“Mohegan Sun Massachusetts has so many great assets, including a superior brand, a successful New England business model and a huge marketing advantage over our competitors in name and database,” states Etess, of the Tribal Gaming Authority. “We have a terrific financial partner in Brigade Capital Management, the largest investment by far and the most creative combination of resort-gaming amenities and family entertainment. And we have the best location of any proposal in Massachusetts, in a wonderful host community.”
Mohegan Sun Mass. reports it will also enter into a construction agreement with the Town of Palmer to address limitations on construction activity hours, noise and heavy equipment traffic, as well as public-safety measures during construction. The developer commits to work directly with the town to establish a Community Advisory Board, to address community relations matters and the promotion of local and minority hiring.
Lined up at the betting-complex window
In the 1970s, Beacon Hill placed its bet on the Lottery. Four decades later, the Commonwealth played the casino/slots card. The Expanded Gaming Act, signed into law in 2011 by Gov. Deval Partick, authorizes the state Gaming Commission to license three regional casinos and one slots parlor.
Now, eight companies are lined up at the betting-complex window.
The two-year-old Expanded Gaming Act authorizes the state Gaming Commission to license three regional casinos and one statewide slots parlor. In Central Mass., two gaming developers are betting on the state’s only slots license and one other developer is rolling the dice for one of the state’s three casino licenses.
The licensing fee for each casino will be a minimum of $85 million and requires a capital investment, to include a hotel facility, of at least $500 million. The Commonwealth will receive 25 percent of gross gaming revenues. The slots facility, which can hold up to 1,250 slot machines, has a $25-million license fee, and a minimum capital investment of $125 million. The slots facility will be taxed at 40 percent of its gross gaming revenue.
On July 15, representatives of Rush Street Gaming, parent of Mass Gaming and Entertainment, unveiled plans for a $200-million slots parlor in Millbury. On July 23, the Board of Selectmen and Rush/MG&E signed a host-site agreement. On September 24, voters in that Blackstone Valley town will cast ballots on the proposed parlor in a referendum election.
One other slots developer, in Raynham, is vying to secure the state’s sole slots license. Six other proposals have been floated for a total of three regional casinos, which, unlike slots parlors, contain other games such as blackjack and roulette. Two are for Eastern Mass. (Boston and Everett), one, for Central Mass. (Milford) and three, for Western Mass. (Palmer, Springfield and West Springfield).
Three days later, on July 18, Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella signed of 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 planned facility in a referendum election.
For now, at least, both Plainville and Tewksbury are out of the running for a slots parlor. The Mass. Gaming Commission has disqualified the owners of the Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville and a Tewskbury Special Town Meeting has rejected a proposed zoning change for a slots parlor.
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