Gambling Board Turns Down Three Late Applications for a Western Mass. Casino

Tuesday was the deadline for casino developers to apply for a license to set up shop in Massachusetts. But four asked the commission that oversees casino gambling for an extension. This  afternoon the board unanimously turned them down, including three in western Massachusetts.

Commissioner James McHugh says the state’s new gaming law allows waivers under various circumstances. But the most important, he says, is the public interest.

“You can’t start the competition until all the competitors have been identified and qualified. …  A six-month delay, which was sought here in several of the cases, would push the western region back six months.”

The commission denied a waiver request by Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette, who wrote the board that a major industry player interested in the city recently had contacted him. 

The panel also turned down Paper City LLC, which planned a Holyoke casino.  Paper City argued that Mayor Alex Morse’s multiple reversals on the issue hampered its ability to meet the deadline. 

Charles Petitti of Newton, who wants to develop a non-profit casino in Holyoke, also cited the mayor’s reversals. But when he tried to make his case in person to the commission today  Pettiti was told there would not be further public testimony.

 “Will there be a private one then?” he adked. “We just want fairness.” 

There would not be a private conversation. Today’s commission actions leave four contenders for the sole gambling license that will be awarded in western Massachusetts: Penn National Gaming, MGM Resorts International, Hard Rock International, and Mohegan Sun.