Gaming panel seeks feedback on Region C casino bids

Thursday 30th January 2020

As it weighs a potential relaunch of the process to license a third resort casino, the state Gaming Commission wants to hear what residents think and what it should take into consideration if it moves forward with a southeastern Massachusetts casino bid.

The commission Wednesday issued a request for public comment on whether it should reopen the application process for Region C -- the commission's name for the region composed of Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties -- and what regulators should consider if they do end up reviewing new license applications.

Regulators also issued a formal request for information, looking for answers to specific and business-related questions pertaining to a potential market analysis.

"We encourage the participation of the public and other interested parties as we conduct critical due diligence on this complex matter that will inform our ongoing evaluation and examination of what is in the best interest of Region C and the commonwealth," commission Chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein said. "The RFI and public comment processes will strengthen our ultimate decision as to whether to reopen the application process for Region C."

Region C has been an unsettled matter for the commission for many years. In 2016, when it appeared a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal casino in Taunton was likely, regulators rejected a proposal for a commercial casino in Brockton. Since then, the commission has discussed reopening the bidding for the region but has not appeared to be in any rush to take that step.

The commission's steps toward reconsideration come while the state's two resort casinos and one slots parlor are underperforming financially. Casino gaming revenues are experiencing a year-over-year decline -- the governor's budget projects a decline of $11 million in fiscal 2021 -- and Massachusetts could see the annual tax revenue benefits of expanded gaming plateau under the $300 million mark, short of the estimates proponents used in the yearslong effort to bring casinos to the Bay State.

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