The Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced on Thursday that the approval of two of the state’s total of three casino licenses will be delayed for at least three months.
The eastern Massachusetts license was supposed to be awarded this coming May, but hearings about the ongoing dispute over the argument of the city of Boston that it had to be considered as a host community, will move the date at least to August.
“I think this is the right thing to do, but I do hope that everybody will have in mind the hefty price that is being paid by many people who are trying to accommodate the city’s concerns,” said Steve Crosby, the Gaming Commission Chairman.
In southeastern Massachusetts, the local commissioners announced they would still be accepting further applications for two more months, through to September.
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe which has already signed a compact with Gov. Deval Patrick for opening a casino in the region, are facing difficulties in getting the land they purchased in Taunton to be taken into trust by the federal government. Crosby expressed his concern that this delay would harm the interest in the region.
He added that “The circumstances aren’t going to change and the reason these deals haven’t happened is because nobody knows what has to be done in a market that is so congested and has the significant chance of being a no-tax rate tribe casino.”
That statement came after potential casino developers said that they were less and less likely to bid for a license in a region without concessions from the state, including lowering the level of the minimum investment a company has to make in order to build a casino in Massachusetts, which is currently at $500 million.
The members of the Gaming Commission had a short discussion about that option before deciding to leave it for future hearings. After the meeting, the officials from Fall River, the only other community which is working on bringing a casino to southeastern Massachusetts, said that they were on track to meet the original deadline.
“At the moment we are ready to rock and roll,” said Kenneth Fiola Jr., vice president of Fall River’s Office of Economic Development. He added that he expected the city to issue a host community agreement with Foxwoods in the beginning of next week.