Massachusetts voters can decide casino issue, court rules

Casino developments in Massachusetts proposed by MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts Ltd., have been thrown in limbo by the state’s highest court, which said Tuesday voters can ultimately decide if the commonwealth can have gaming.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of a ballot question that could throw out a 2011 decision by state lawmakers allowing the development of three regional casinos and a slot machine parlor.

MGM Resorts has been granted the single license in Western Massachusetts to build an $800 million casino in Springfield. The state’s gaming commission ruled, however, that the casino company would not have to pay an $85 million licensing fee until the repeal issue was settled.

MGM Resorts has paid the city of Springfield $15 million in advance payments and agreed to an additional $25 million in annual payments once the casino opens.

In a statement, MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said the company is prepared to fight to the keep the casino project alive. He said the Las Vegas-based company has spent three years developing the project in conjunction with all of Western Massachusetts.

“We are confident that our urban revitalization project in Springfield … is something to which all Massachusetts voters can relate,” Mathis said. “We are fully prepared to extend this message to a larger audience through a statewide campaign to educate the voters on the enormous economic benefits that would be lost to the taxpayers … in a repeal.”

Wynn Resorts has proposed building a $1.6 billion casino along the Mystic River in Everett outside Boston. The company is competing for the single license with the Mohegan Sun Indian Tribe, which is partnering with the Suffolk Downs Race Track on $1.3 billion development in Revere.

The commission was not expected to decide on the Boston area license until September.

A spokesman for Wynn Resorts said the company did not have a comment on the ruling.

Penn National Gaming, which owns M Resort in Henderson, has the slot machine parlor gaming license is currently building a $225 million casino as part of the Plainridge harness race track in Plainville.

Penn National Senior Vice President Eric Schippers said the company was disappointed by the ruling but that construction would continue “full steam ahead.” The slot machine casino is expected to open in June 2015.

Analysts said Tuesday recent polling shows Massachusetts voters favor the casinos. A poll conducted by the Boston Globe showed 52 percent of respondents would vote to keep the state law versus 41 percent who would vote to repeal it.

Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli told investors he expects voters will favor casinos. He said the phrasing of the ballot question will be considerably more favorable than current language suggests.

“We would note that both of the license holders and some of the remaining participants for the yet to be awarded licenses are using considerable union labor, thus, we would anticipate the unions will be strong supporters of the gaming initiative,” Santarelli said.

In a statement, Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Steven Crosby said the board “respects” court’s decision. He said the commission has not taken a position on the repeal.

“We are committed to implementing the law as it currently exists in a manner that is participatory, transparent and fair,” Crosby said, adding the commission has been flexible in the licensing and regulatory process “in the atmosphere of uncertainty.”

The court’s ruling overturned a finding by the Massachusetts attorney general that the proposed ballot question was unconstitutional because it would cause casino developers to lose property without compensation.

The anti-casino measure was pushed a group that said developers weren’t entitled to any compensation because no property or contract rights exist. They also maintained that the state has “police powers” to revisit and revise laws affecting “public morals and welfare” at any time.

In their repeal campaign, opponents said casinos are a predatory industry and their presence would lead to increased crime and gambling addiction and would hurt small businesses near the resorts.

John Ribeiro, chairman of the group Repeal the Casino Deal, said the group will now enter into a new stage of the fight — by persuading voters to outlaw casino gambling.

“While this ruling marks a huge hurdle now cleared, it’s also the firing of the starting gun in this incredibly important campaign,” Ribeiro said. “We know Massachusetts can do better than this casino mess.”

American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman said the Washington D.C.-based trade organization would work to “ensure voters have the facts about our industry instead of tired stereotypes.”

Freeman said the vote could cost Massachusetts “thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenues gaming will bring to the commonwealth.”

Proponents of the law point to thousands of permanent jobs and temporary construction jobs that would be created, along with an influx of new tax revenue for the state. The 2011 law imposes a 25 percent tax on gross gambling revenues at the casinos and a 40 percent tax on slots parlor revenues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
MGM Grand Plans To Add Retail And Dining To Its Strip Facade
MGM Grand President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Sibella said executives are “discussing redeveloping that entire frontage of the building out to the Las Vegas Strip.” (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Boyd Gaming planning new corporate campus
Casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp. has filed plans to build a new corporate campus. The plans call for two 10-story office buildings and a six-level parking garage in the southwest Las Vegas Valley. Boyd Gaming operates The Orleans, the Suncoast, downtown's California Hotel and other properties. The new headquarters would be just a mile from its current main office building.
Bellagio Conservatory transformed to celebrate Year of the Pig
The Bellagio Conservatory Team transformed the 14,000 square foot conservatory to commemorate Chinese New Year, the holiday that marks the end of the coldest days of winter. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Intro uses sound to connect people
Intro, a startup that is part of the Future Worlds Accelerator in the UK, has an app that uses ultrasonic sound to find people and companies nearby.
CES 2019 Video: CES wraps up another year
Time-lapse video of the action at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Create your own beauty products
Beauty Mix by BeautyByMe is a product that lets you create your own cosmetics and beauty products. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Picobrew’s home brew machine
Picobrew brings automation to homebrewing. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Surviving CES
What it's like to spend four days working the mammoth tech convention. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Haier’s smart home
Haier presented smart home technology at CES 2019.
CES 2019 VIDEO: Foldimate makes laundry day easy
Foldimate has created a machine that will fold your laundry for you. Just feed it anything you need folded and it will do the rest. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Opte device corrects skin spots
Opte from Proctor and Gamble is a device for correcting spots and freckles from skin. It analyzes the area for spots and then covers them with a serum of matching skin tone. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas unveiled
Derek Stevens reveals Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas. He plans open by the end of 2020. (K.M Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa, new casino coming to Fremont Street
Casino owner Derek Stevens announces his new property Circa, coming to Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas in late 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dreenk My Oeno makes wine suggestions
At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Dreenk My Oeno tells you all about wine.
Polaroid One Step Plus camera unveiled at CES 2019
Polaroid has moved into the digital age with its One Step Plus camera with Bluetooth. With the connected app, it turns your smartphone into a remote for the camera, along with filters and features.
Amazon is everywhere at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Seemingly everything works with Amazon Alexa
LG Smart Mirror helps you dress snazzy
LG’s Smart Mirror is less of a mirror but more of an assistant to help get you looking snazzy. It takes your image and recommends clothes for you or matches existing clothes with new clothes, which can be purchased right from the mirror. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Underwater robots make waves at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Robosea is a company dedicated to underwater robotics. They produce consumer robots for underwater filming as well as commercial products which can be used for underwater research. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019 - Victrola record players spin in Las Vegas
A new spin on an old favorite, Victrola record players are meeting a demand for retro products. The brand is also making furnitures with built-in speakers.
CES 2019: Slamtec robots ready to serve
Slamtec is a robotics company out of China whose goal is to provide solutions for laser localization mapping and navigation. They have created two autonomous robots that can be used in areas such as bars, restaurants and malls. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mixologiq drink maker appears at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.
This is the Mixologiq drink maker.
CES 2019: Veritable smart garden
Let’s face it; not all of us have green thumbs. And herbs are particularly difficult to grow, considering their constant need for sunshine. Enter the Veritable smart garden from Exky, which does it all for you. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas being sold to developer
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas is being sold to a developer, set to close in March. Bonnie Springs, west of Las Vegas off State Route 159 — next to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park — spans more than 60 acres and was on the market for $31 million. The developer and his project partner are under contract to buy the ranch and plan to chop it up mostly into custom-home lots. The plans includes a 25-room motel, a restaurant and a 5,400-square-foot event barn.
Bone-conduction headphones form Aftershokz
Aftershokz offers bone-conduction headphones - headphones that don’t go in the ear.
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Autonomous Cars and Futuristic Aircraft Rule CES
Day two of CES was dominated by autonomous cars and futuristic aircraft in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
TekNekSavr fights neck problems caused by smart phones
Atiya Syverson invented the TekNekSavr to help fight neck and head problems caused by strains while typing on smart phones. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New eyeglasses know if you fall and call for help
The French company Abeye has created eye glasses that will detect if the wearer falls and call for help. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Company that creates vibrator-like device claims genders bias against CES
Lora DiCarlo is a women-run start-up that creates a vibrator-like device designed for female pleasure called the Osé. This year they were awarded the CES Innovation Award in the Robotics and Drone Category, but a month later the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, rescinded the award and their booth. Haddock and her team believe it is a reflection of gender bias and sexism in an industry with a long history of male domination.
CES-Wagz has new pet products
Wagz has three new products to help create better lives for your pets in a digital world. One is a collar with LTE tracking and an HD camera. Also a smart pet door that only lets your pet in and out. Lastly, a device to humanely keep Fluffy out of certain areas of your home. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like