Foxwoods still weighing its casino in MA

foxwoodsMilford, Massachusetts may have voted down Foxwoods’ proposed casino project, but Foxwoods and their partners are still pursuing their options in Massachusetts according to an article in the Milford Daily News.

According to the article the Crossroads Massachusetts LLC partnership remains intact and is exploring other potential sites for a resort casino. Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera told the newspaper, “We are looking for any opportunities,” including Southeastern Massachusetts.

The failed referendum in Milford

Despite a $1 million marketing campaign, and outspending the anti-casino group that formed in the town by a 40-1 margin, Foxwoods lost the town referendum by a 65/35 margin, as Milford residents came out in full force to vote against the project on Tuesday, November 19.

The voter turnout was very high, coming close to presidential year turnout percentages, with a 57% voter turnout –for comparison, the last local election in Milford had about a 10% voter turnout, and presidential elections have been as high as 75%.

Referendum’s failing across the state

From what I have seen in Massachusetts, it would seem that the majority is in favor of casinos; they just don’t want them in their own backyards, considering that Foxwoods isn’t the only potential casino project in the state that has been unable to gain the support of local residents:

* Foxborough never held a referendum, but local elections acted as such in 2012, and a proposed Wynn/Kraft casino across from Foxborough stadium was scrapped.

* The proposed Suffolk Downs Casino was voted down in East Boston –the referendum also included the town of Revere which passed the measure, and Suffolk Downs is now looking to move their entire project to Revere.

* The proposed Mohegan Sun Casino in Palmer, MA also fell at the ballot box, by a mere 93 votes. Mohegan Sun is now looking towards Revere after Suffolk Downs original partner, The MGM, was deemed unfit by Mass regulators.

The Wynn proposal in Everett was the first and still the only casino proposal to pass the town referendum.

There are still several potential casino sites in Western Massachusetts (in the Springfield area) that have yet to hold referendum votes as well.

The return of David Nunes

One interesting element of the MDN story is David Nunes decision to move forward with Foxwoods as they explore other potential sites, as the two have had a tumultuous relationship thus far.

Colorado developer David Nunes had originally leased the land where the proposed Foxwoods casino would have been built in Milford back in 2009, and when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission started accepting proposals Nunes joined forces with Foxwoods.

Unfortunately, the Nunes/Foxwoods partnership got off to a rocky start, and Nunes walked away from the project (or was forced out depending on who you ask) shortly after Foxwoods was brought on board.

After being stripped of his authority, and ostensibly washing his hands of the project, Nunes returned when the project really started to take shape and it looked like the Milford location was a strong contender for one of Massachusetts licenses. Nunes return occurred around the time that Foxwoods was lobbying Milford’s Board of Selectman (and having a tough go of it), and was perhaps precipitated because of his relationship with town officials.

Potential sites

When the casino law first passed in MA a number of areas were floated as possibilities, and it would seem that the only areas in the general vicinity of Milford that haven’t been explored at this time are Plainville and Marlborough, but both would be long-shots.

According to the Boston Globe, Foxwoods may also be eyeing Fall River as a potential location.

Should they move their project to Fall River, Foxwoods would no longer be competing for the Boston-area license (Massachusetts is divided into three regions and each region will have only one casino) and would instead face an uphill battle against the proposed Wampanoag project in Taunton, although that project is facing its own hurdles.




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