NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 28, 2014

Foxwoods eyes new casino proposal in Mass.

FALL RIVER (AP) — Foxwoods is looking to make another attempt at entering the Massachusetts casino market, this time in Fall River.

Mayor William Flanagan and Connecticut-based Foxwoods scheduled an announcement for today on a plan for a $750 million resort-style casino in the city. No further details were released.

Ann O’Neil-Souza, chief of staff to the mayor, said no location within the city had been chosen for the proposed casino.

Foxwoods and investment partner Crossroads Massachusetts had first set its sights on the town of Milford, about 30 miles west of Boston, and hoped to compete for the sole eastern Massachusetts resort casino license. But more than 60 percent of Milford voters rejected that $1 billion plan in a referendum last fall.

Flanagan told the Herald News of Fall River that he received a call the next day from David Nunes, the chief operating officer of Foxwoods Massachusetts.

“He said, ‘I want to come to Fall River,’” Flanagan said. “I said, ‘OK, let’s talk about the city.’”

A spokeswoman for Foxwoods said details of the proposal will be released during an announcement today.

The state’s 2011 gambling law also allows for a single resort casino in southeastern Massachusetts, where Fall River is located, but gave preference in the region to a federally recognized Indian tribe, making it uncertain whether Foxwoods or any other commercial proposal will ever have a chance to actually compete for the license.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has signed a compact with Gov. Deval Patrick for a proposed casino in Taunton, but still faces other obstacles including a requirement that the land be taken into trust by the federal government.

Last April, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted to begin accepting casino applications from commercial developers in the southeast region while the panel continued to monitor the tribe’s progress in securing regulatory approvals.

The only company to submit an application to date is KG Urban Enterprises, which is hoping to develop a facility in New Bedford.

Foxwoods has already undergone a background check from the gambling commission and in November received a conditional suitability ruling, pending the completion of an equity financing plan. The company later signed a deal for additional financing with Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc., a newly created spinoff from Penn National Gaming.

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