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Massachusetts clears first hurdle for casino gaming


n one of the most dramatic leg- islative reversals in recent history,

the Massachusetts House of Representatives gave a veto-proof vote of 120-37 to Speaker Robert DeLeo for his bill that would authorize two regional casino resorts and four racinos. The bill survived over 200 amendment attempts. Now it heads to the Senate,

in neighboring states, such as Connecticut, where they spend over $1 billion annually. Two years ago the House, under a dif-

ferent speaker, Salvatore F. DiMasi, shot down a three-casino resort bill by Governor Deval Patrick by more than two thirds. The main difference between then and now is the recession. Most of those representatives reversed

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo

which approved a racino bill in 2005. The Senate, however, plans to pen its own gam- ing legalization bill, with a vote not expected until June. The bill will, says DeLeo, create 18,000 jobs,

generate up to $500 million annually in econom- ic activity, and inject $100 million into local gov- ernment from a 40 percent tax of gaming rev- enue. It would also collect $260 million in one- time licensing fees and require a $500 million minimum investment by a casino developer. It would, if passed by the Senate and allowed

to stand by the governor, make the state the 14th in the nation to have commercial casinos. Much of that money will, it is expected,

come from Massachusetts players who now play

themselves in the new vote. That includes the speaker himself. But they aren’t the only ones who changed their minds. Patrick is

now on record as opposing this bill, which he said would have unacceptable social costs. Several representatives who fought hard for a

guarantee that Western Massachusetts would be guar- anteed one of the casinos were unsuccessful. That region includes the town of Palmer, where the devel- opment arm of the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut is pushing to build a mega-casino resort. One ancillary effect of the bill was that online

poker-playing in the Bay State was not criminalized, as it had been in the original bill pushed by Patrick two years ago. Removing that provision from the bill was supported by the Poker Players Alliance, a nationwide organization that has 25,000 members in the state.


Future uncertain for Foxwoods Philadelphia project

The Wynn Resorts rendering of its now-cancelled Philadelphia casino


ity officials and just about everyone else in Philadelphia were shocked last month by the

announcement from Wynn Resorts Chairman Stephen Wynn that he is abandoning his bid to take over the troubled Foxwoods Philadelphia project on the city’s riverfront. The news came in a two-paragraph business-wire

press release from Wynn Resorts that its newly formed subsidiary Development Associates, LLC had “terminated all agreements and negotiations with respect to a potential investment in the Foxwoods Casino project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” Wynn’s statement in the release shed little light


on the reason he is abandoning the project. “We are fascinated by the legalization of full gaming in Pennsylvania and stimulated by the opportunity that it presents for Wynn Resorts, but this particular

project did not, in the end, present an opportunity that was appropriate for our company,” he said. Only three days earlier, Wynn and his main archi-

tect had met—at Wynn’s request—with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to discuss the project. Nutter later said it was a productive meeting, and after the announcement, said he was “stunned” at Wynn’s departure. Just a week before the cancellation, Wynn’s

Philadelphia venture had seemed full-speed ahead. He had delivered complete plans for the project, includ- ing color renderings, to the state Gaming Control Board three weeks early for a casino he said would be “Wynn top to bottom.”

Global Gaming Business • May 2010

Kansas Casino Developer Folds Cards

Lakes Entertainment pulls plug after governor refuses extension


hisholm Creek Casino Resort

reacted to being denied a 60-day extension for the state to decide on its bid to build a state-owned $225 million casino resort in Sumner County by abruptly pulling out of the process. The lead developer,

Lakes Entertainment Chairman Lyle Berman

Lakes Entertainment, sent a brief note to the state announcing it was pulling out and asking for its $25 million privilege fee to be returned. Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson rejected the

request for a fourth delay in voting by the seven- member Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board that is tasked with making that decision. The developer had asked for the extension from the board, which passed it on to the governor, who rejected it with this statement: “I believe it is not in the best interest of Kansas, or the project stakeholders, to put this decision off any longer.” Without the governor’s permission, the board

was required to make a decision by April 19. Also complicating the process is the fact that

Chisholm Creek was the only applicant for Summer County and the south-central gaming zone. So now, apparently, the whole process will go back to square one.

Some experts said his cancellation of the project

had something to do with Atlantic City. Soon after leaving Philadelphia, Wynn visited the

Atlantic City Hilton, the casino-hotel he built in the 1980s as the Golden Nugget. According to one Hilton employee, there was an idea being floated of Wynn re-acquiring the property and transforming the hotel into an all-suite facility. Another report had Wynn looking over the Revel

project at the other end of the Boardwalk, which had days earlier been announced as for sale by Morgan Stanley. The Wall Street giant, which was reportedly close to securing the final piece of financing to com- plete the mega-resort’s interiors, indicated it was willing to take a loss in selling the property. It is possible that Wynn could pick up a new property for a bargain. But all that speculation was put to rest when

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