NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 25, 2013

Selectmen delay vote on slots-only casino

Board to meet Monday in workshop before moving on to a decision

SALISBURY — Selectmen will meet Monday in a 4:30 p.m. workshop to pursue whether they will enter into negotiations with a Maryland company that wants to bring a 12,500-square-foot, 1,250-machine, slots-only casino to Route 110 in town.

They will then meet at 7 p.m. that night in a formal selectmen’s meeting to decide “yea or nay” on pursuing the venture with the Cordish Companies, a 100-year-old, family-owned, Baltimore-based real estate development firm with 20 years of experience building and running gambling venues.

The decision came after an hour-plus presentation by Cordish representative Jeffrey Snyder, who told selectmen the company believes the proposed location on Bruce Arakelian’s land on Route 110 (Elm Street) is perfect for the development. The 11-acre lot, which is the site of the Sylvan Street Grille and Vision Max Theater complex, is not only large enough to hold such a facility and on a good-sized, state-owned secondary highway with available water and sewer, Snyder said, but its access to Interstates 495 and 95 makes it ideal to accommodate the traffic the 24/7 slot machine casino would generate.

Along with determining if gambling is right for Salisbury, selectmen are dealing with a short turnaround time. Although Snyder said he and Cordish believe in the strong potential of the Salisbury location, it wasn’t the company’s first choice. Other communities approached, like Boxborough, turned down Cordish.

The result is that given the deadlines imposed by the state’s Gaming Commission, selectmen and Cordish must work out all the particulars in a signed host agreement within the next five weeks in order to make the commission’s Oct. 4 application deadline.

In November of 2011, gambling casinos became legal in Massachusetts under a restrictive piece of legislation that allows three full casinos with slot machines and table games and only one slots-only casino. Four companies, including Cordish, paid $400,000 to get into the mix to partner with a community for the right to build and run the slot parlor venue, Snyder said. The law requires that the gaming company partner with the host community of its choice, producing an extensive contract that works out all the details and responsibilities for the slot casino.

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