, Newburyport, MA


July 3, 2013

Our view: Salisbury made right bet on slots parlor


Both of these casinos depended heavily on Massachusetts residents to support their bottom line. What we are seeing is a leveling off, if not a contraction, of the gaming industry.

Perhaps the best comparison is Rhode Island’s Twin River, a huge slots parlor that recently was granted permission to become a full-fledged casino. It was done out of desperation: Twin River, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, sees Massachusetts gaming parlors as a significant threat to its survival.

Perhaps if there had been a lot more time and a better thought-out plan, the developers could have presented Salisbury with something enticing and feasible. But the mad scramble, and all the red flags that went with it, were all Salisbury had to look at to decide to take a pass.

The rage with which the owner of the would-be gambling parlor site reacted when the plan was rejected only confirmed the wisdom of the decision.

The Baltimore-based Cordish Companies had proposed building the 1,250-machine casino on part of 11 acres owned by Bruce Arakelian of Haverhill on 110 near the Interstate 95 interchange, where the Sylvan Street Grille and Video Max cinema are now located.

Arakelian, who would have profited by selling or leasing the property to the developers, told the three nay-saying selectmen they were finished and told Beaulieu to not even bother running.

“Why don’t you just pack up your things and get the hell out,” Arakelian shouted. “You’re ... useless. I’m going to put up a digital sign on my property saying what you guys did.”

Salisbury is lucky that three of its five selectmen didn’t let dreams of big money distort their thinking.

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