Holyoke, Massachusetts Mayor Alex Morse’s announcement that he would consider a casino development in the city adds another player to the competition for the siting of a casino in western Massachusetts. Only one casino proposal will be chosen for the region’s single license as allowed by the state’s 2011 gambling law. The law allows for up to three casinos in the state.
But one factor that may get lost as casino talk swirls through the region on a daily basis, is when a casino would actually be open for business.
“If we award the license, say, February of 2014, then it would one and a half to two years probably after that before the casino would be fully up and running.”
That’s Stephen Crosby, chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the state-appointed board charged with overseeing the casino development process. Crosby says along with a $400,000 application fee to the state, all potential applicants must submit background information on their companies and administrators by January 15th.
“Anybody that has any significant impact on the management of a casino facility will need to be investigated, and will need to be clean as a whistle.”
Then the proposal and a host community agreement must be approved by local voters through a referendum. Crosby says the referendum process will most likely begin next summer.
“If a referendum approves a host community agreement and a proposal, then it comes to us, and we will pick from all the proposals in each of the three regions. We could be making decisions as soon as a year from now.”
The proposal, Crosby says, must include economic impacts and plans to mitigate problem gambling. If the commission approves a proposal, a licensed company would be required to pay the state another fee of at least $85 million. Crosby notes the commission is not required to approve any casino licenses.