The Latest on the Casino Wars: Feds Enter the Legal Fray in Boston; New Bedford Developer’s Exit from SE Mass. Competition

The Connecticut Indian Tribes and state lawmakers should be watching the latest developments in Massachusetts—its rival for gaming revenue. Things are not going well in the Bay State as two of Connecticut’s potential rival locations—Greater Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts—suffered setbacks or complications The feds have entered the nasty legal battle in Boston and the developer competing to build a waterfront resort casino in New Bedford has dropped its project.

The proposed Wynn Resorts casino in Everett, north of Boston has become the subject of multiple lawsuits. The cities of Boston and Somerville are suing the state Gaming Commission which awarded the sole Great Boston license to Wynn. A taxpayers group is also suing and influential state Attorney General Maura Healey has asked that the project be delayed until an independent traffic study can be done.

Rendering of proposed Wynn resort casino, Everett, Mass.
Rendering of proposed Wynn resort casino, Everett, Mass.

Now, federal prosecutors are slamming the Boston suit for its “vicious” rumor mongering. The feds took the unusual step of intervening in the casino mess by criticizing the city’s allegations of misconduct on the part of two retired state troopers. The move pretty much slams Boston’s suit led by Mayor Martin Walsh.

There is still a casino license up for grabs for the southeastern Massachusetts. New Bedford leaders were counting on KG Urban to develop waterfront land into a resort casino. The state Gaming Commission officially accepted the company’s bid withdrawal last week. (New Bedford folks are now clobbering each other with blame, exacerbated by a mayoral election race underway). Gaming eyes are now turned to the location of the former Brocton Fair.

The only project up and running is the one slots parlor allowed under the state law that allows expanded gambling. Plainridge Park opened last month and is doing brisk business. The owners have made it clear they are going after gamblers who otherwise would go to Connecticut.

The only full casino project that seems to be moving ahead is the $800 MGM plan in Springfield. MGM Resorts International head honcho William Hornbuckle went a little cra-cra  on us when he decided to challenge Connecticut over casino jobs and revenue earlier this month.

“We’re not going to go peacefully,” Hornbuckle said. They are “contemplating our options.” One would think the ridiculousness of Hornbuckle’s comments would elicit a simple, “What exactly are you going to do about it?” Because the fact is, Hornbuckle can’t do anything about Connecticut allowing another casino in the I-91 corridor or anywhere else. Hence his inability to articulate just what actions he can take to block it.