Last Thursday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 3-1 against the proposed reconsideration that was on the table regarding the Brockton Fairgrounds casino.
This was the first vote since April 2016 when the MGC originally denied the Brockton Fairgrounds casino.
In terms of why the vote came about, key members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission told Brockton's newspaper, the Enterprise News, that “they have the statutory authority to reconsider past decisions, but said the reasons argued by the casino company, Mass Gaming & Entertainment, were insufficient.”
Furthermore, the fear from many commissioners of the MGC was that the reconsideration process would ultimately prove to be unfair. Specifically unfair to the other businesses and groups that could jump into the application process for the Region C license now in place in southeastern Massachusetts law.
Neil Bluhm, an American billionaire real and casino mogul worth a reported $4 billion, has been the key energy behind the Brockton Fairgrounds casino proposal.
But even he is getting worn down by this process. He told the MGC (according to Boston radio station WBUR) that he has spent millions of dollars and five years of his life and time on studies and planning with the hope and eventual plan of constructing a Brockton Faigrounds casino.
“I don’t honestly know how long you expect us to be hanging around here for Brockton,” Bluhm told the commission, the Enterprise News reported. “I don’t see why you can’t vote that you have the authority to reconsider, and then for a period of time see what interest there is for others to potentially bid on this. And then if you have no interest, then you can go back and make your decision. But to vote that you are not going to reopen this under any circumstances? I don’t know how I could continue to hang in here on behalf of Brockton.”
Bluhm is Chairman of the Board of Midwest Gaming & Entertainment which owns casinos in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, and Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Canada.
When the 2016 decision came about Bluhm made the argument that the commission chose to do so with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe looking to open a resort and casino roughly 15 miles away in Taunton, a city in Bristol County. Just this summer in Boston, about 25 miles north of Brockton, the Encore Boston Harbor Casino opened to great fanfare and had success right away.
All in all, Bluhm reported to Enterprise News that this proposed casino would have created $351 million in revenue annually, $55 million in gambling taxes for the state, about $10 million per year to the city of Brockton and north of $14 million for various public safety improvements. Mass Gaming & Entertainment also quoted the casino plans to have created 1,800 jobs permanently and 2,000 construction jobs.
It seems as if these plans will be shelved for quite some time and perhaps never come back as Ward 5 Councilor Anne Beauregard made it clear it is now going to be about finding alternatives for the Brockton Fairgrounds location. George Carney, a local businessman owns the spot as he teamed up with Bluhm to create Mass Gaming & Entertainment.
“I am thrilled we can finally put this to bed,” Beauregard told Enterprise News. “We can start looking at a productive use for the fairgrounds that’s advantageous to the future of the community of Brockton.”
The Brockton Fairgrounds won’t have a casino on site in the near future, but casinos elsewhere could pop up in Massachusetts. It is time to table that discussion once again.