Holyoke, MA Mayor Alex Morse Outlines Criteria for Casino

Just days after announcing he will consider casino developments in Holyoke, Massachusetts, mayor Alex Morse issued a set of criteria he expects potential developers to meet if they plan to propose a casino resort in the city.

In a letter to three local developers who have expressed interest, the mayor’s administration lists what it would require of a casino in the city. The requirements include financial commitment to the redevelopment of downtown, addressing “addiction and crime” issues related to gambling, and employing city residents, particularly women, ethnic minorities, and veterans. Morse also announced plans to establish a “community committee” made up of city stakeholders to determine whether proposed developments meet the criteria.

Marcos Marrero, the city’s director of Economic Development says Holyoke wants an efficient review process to fit in with the state’s timeline. Casino developers are required to submit applications with a $400,000 fee to the state by January 15th. Marrero says he’s confident casino developers can meet this, because two of the three known to be interested each paid a $25,000 fee to the city this week.

“And they wouldn’t have put their money down if they didn’t think they could meet the deadlines going forward.”

But City Councilor Gordon Alexander, a casino opponent, says if Holyoke truly wanted to compete with other casino plans in neighboring communities for the region’s single casino license, the city would have considered developers proposals much sooner.

“We’ve known what the state deadlines are for many, many months, no reason why this had to suddenly be sprung on everyone in late November. That was a choice of the mayor’s, and I think a poor choice.”

Marrero says the mayor and community committee will determine before the mid-January deadline whether any of the casino developments meet the criteria, and are worthy of moving to the state level.