On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Massachusetts lawmakers finally concluded a lengthy negotiation about the economic development bill. Initially, the economic development bill addressed various issues, including gambling topics. However, on Wednesday, lawmakers removed the plans set for Massachusetts Gaming Commission to look at factors contributing to the remaining casino license issuance.
In 2011, the legislature granted the state’s Gaming Commission the power to give three resort casino licenses. MGM Springfield was the first to get the license, while Encore Boston Harbor, located at Everett, took the second license. There remains one more region to acquire the third casino license. Yet, the Gaming Commission has not determined which county among Plymouth, Dukes, Barnstable, Bristol, or Nantucket qualify for the permit. For years now, the Gaming Commission’s job to issue the license has been a complicated process.
In 2016, the gaming board rejected a proposal to license a commercial casino at Brockton. Since then, there have been doubts about whether any casino developer can invest at least $500 million in a facility that already has huge competition from three casino operations in Massachusetts and others in neighboring states. What’s more, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is planning to return to its initial plan for opening a $1 billion casino in Taunton whether the Gaming Commission grant a third license to someone else or not.
Evaluation of Region C in Regards to Sustaining a Casino
Before issuing a casino permit to the previous applicant, the gaming commission evaluated whether the applicants could sustain a casino facility depending on economic development in the area. This applies to Region C, comprising five counties, including Plymouth, Dukes, Barnstable, Bristol, and Nantucket, to find the best to sustain a resort casino.
The Taunton Democrat, Representative Carol Doherty, co-sponsored a statement in the economic development bill requiring the Gaming Commission to generate an evaluation of financial status on Region C. The requirements also needed the Gaming Commission to find whether the resort casino applicants could provide a proposal on how they would increase the region’s value in which the resort is by 2024.
In an earlier evaluation, the gaming commission found Region C fit to have a resort casino. However, in early 2020, the board had to seek specific answers to business-related questions to determine its eligibility. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic shook the process of acquiring information and analyzing the feedback it received about market analysis of Region C. despite that, the Massachusetts gaming board plans to take a more in-depth look into the issue before giving its final analysis.
Issuance of the Last Casino Permit Wasn’t the Only Issue Left Out
Like how the House and Senate leaders failed to conclude negotiations about casino permit’s issuance, they too couldn’t reach a deal about legalizing sports gambling. On Tuesday evening, the new speaker Ron Mariano described the House and Senate division as a shame for failing to reach an agreement.
Baker had filed a bill proposing the introduction of sports betting in Massachusetts in 2019, hoping it would be signed into law by summer the same year. The bill proposed bettors to bet through mobile applications before the National Football League (NFL) kicked off in 2019. However, the Senate has not been optimistic about negotiating the terms of the bill. Mariano hopes to propel the sports betting bill when the new session begins before DraftKings decides to transfer their jobs to New Hampshire, which already has legal sports betting industry.