Group dropping bid for casino in Somerset

Withdrawal leaves New Bedford, Brockton, and possibly Taunton to compete for license

BOSTON (State House News Service) – The group that was seeking to build a resort casino in Somerset abandoned its efforts this week, leaving active bids in New Bedford and Brockton in the ongoing hunt for a southeastern Massachusetts casino license.

A representative of Crossroads Massachusetts LLC wrote a letter to state gambling regulators saying the group is withdrawing its application for a casino license in southeastern Massachusetts, also known as “Region C.” Robert Allen Jr., an attorney for Crossroads, sent the letter, dated May 11.

Crossroads, which had asked the commission for more time to submit materials related to their application before withdrawing, had previously mounted an unsuccessful effort to build an eastern Massachusetts casino in Milford, which local voters rejected in 2013.

Crossroads’ withdrawal leaves two groups in the competition for a “Region C” casino license: Mass Gaming & Entertainment, an affiliate of Rush Street Gaming in Chicago, which is hoping to bring a casino to Brockton; and KG Urban, part of a group aiming to build a casino on the New Bedford waterfront.

Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby said he hadn’t spoken with Crossroads and they didn’t provide more background on their withdrawal.

“I guess they thought it through and decided that it was just more than they could do and pull it together,” he said.

Crosby added, “We’re always open to anything, but I think that at this stage of the game I can’t imagine somebody else coming in.”

Brockton voters on Tuesday narrowly approved a proposal for $650 million casino. New Bedford is aiming to hold a referendum vote on the casino proposal for that city on June 23.

Citing competition in “Region C” as a priority, the state Gaming Commission on Thursday voted 4-0 to consider KG Urban’s application “substantially complete,” allowing them to go forward, though regulators want an update from the group on additional background information in two weeks.

“Once you get to two, you’ve hit the critical mass and you’ve now got competition,” Crosby said, adding that competition leads to better casino proposals and a better revenue deal for the state.

In the same region, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is on a different track, looking for federal land approval so they can proceed with building a tribal casino in Taunton.

The commission will attempt to award the “Region C” license before the end of the year, but Crosby said the timeline, to some extent, is out of the commission’s control.

Crosby pointed to the “Region A” licensing process as one slowed by negotiations, adjudications and arbitrations with surrounding communities.

Massachusetts legalized resort casinos in 2011 and has doled out licenses in two other regions. Wynn Resorts received a license to build an eastern Massachusetts casino in Everett and MGM is constructing a western Massachusetts casino in Springfield.

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