Southeast Casino Process Delayed a Little Longer
BOSTON — Gambling regulators agreed Thursday that deciding whether to restart the bidding process for the southeastern Massachusetts casino license will have to wait a little bit longer.
Ever since the Gaming Commission declined to issue a Region C -- the commission's name for the southeastern part of the state -- casino license in 2016, gaming operators and others have pressed the commission to re-open the bidding process.
The commission had been planning to chart its path forward on Region C this month, but with the recent appointment of a new commission chair, Executive Director Edward Bedrosian opted to put the Region C process on hold.
"We had previously talked about bringing this back up in front of the commission in January, which we are, but the interim factor and change in circumstance is the appointment of a new chair and it seems appropriate that we wait until the new chair is in place so the new commission in total can address this," Bedrosian said Thursday.
Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker tapped Cathy Judd-Stein, currently his deputy legal counsel and a veteran state government lawyer, to chair the Gaming Commission. She will begin in that job on Feb. 4.
"Any decision we make should include our new chairwoman and giving her a little time to understand all the issues and read all the comments is certainly appropriate," interim Chairwoman Gayle Cameron said.
Bedrosian said the commission will consider Region C again "once the new chair is in place and comfortable with everything else she has to do."
In 2016, the commission denied a bid from Mass Gaming & Entertainment to build a casino on the Brockton Fairgrounds but the company has since petitioned the commission to re-open the bidding process. MG&E, which is backed by Rush Street Gaming, told the commission in June that its roughly $700 million project is "ready to start" and the $85 million licensing fee "is ready to be paid today."
Gaming regulators have awarded two of the three resort casino licenses authorized under the 2011 expanded gaming law, as well as a slots license that is held by Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville. Springfield is home to the state's first casino and a second casino is nearly complete in Everett, and scheduled to open this year. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has so far been unable to obtain the necessary approvals to build a tribal casino in Taunton. The gaming commission is not required to award the third resort casino license.