Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs

Chip Bott

Suffolk Has Competition for Casino License

The Massachusetts track is going up against Foxwoods Resort Casino.

By Lynne Snierson

Suffolk Downs will face much stiffer competition for the sole destination resort casino license designated for the Greater Boston area now that Foxwoods Resort Casino has entered the crowded field in Massachusetts.

Foxwoods, the largest and most dominant casino entity in the expanding New England gambling market, has teamed with David Nunes' Crossroads Development as a full partner in an effort to develop a major project in Milford, which is located in the Boston suburbs.

Suffolk and partner Caesars Entertainment already have proposals in the works to develop a $1 billion project on the grounds of the urban racetrack bordering the cities of East Boston and Revere, and Steve Wynn is also vying to build a $1 billion casino in nearby Everett.

Now that Foxwoods, which would operate the casino if the new partnership wins the competitive bidding process, has joined the battle, three of the biggest players in the national casino industry are in direct competition. Crossroads Development had already filed its phase one application and paid the $400,000 non-refundable fee, and the involvement of Foxwoods gives its proposal significantly more standing.

Said Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle: "Suffolk Downs has announced the details of our resort casino proposal showing our commitment to investing in the vibrant, multi-cultural host communities of Boston and Revere, including East Boston, our home for 78 years. We always knew there would be competition for the resort casino license in our region and that we would have to earn the license; we are doing just that with a world-class proposal that will bring thousands of jobs to the people who need them, keep the new revenue in Massachusetts, and also bring much needed transportation improvements to the area."

Should the Suffolk/Caesars bid prove successful, live Thoroughbred racing would continue under terms of legislation passed in 2011. Moreove,r the racing and breeding industries in Massachusetts would receive a percentage of the revenue generated by the three resort casinos and one stand-alone slot machine parlor to be built in the state.

When contacted by The Blood-Horse, Foxwoods public relations director Dale Wobrink said she had not seen any architectural renderings of the proposed Crossroads casino project that include horse racing. The Wynn project does not have any provisions for live racing.

Millenium Gaming, the company wanting to develop a casino at Rockingam Park in neighboring New Hampshire, said it was unfazed by the casino possibilities in Massachusetts.

"Rockingham Park and Millennium Gaming are undaunted by what is transpiring in Massachusetts," Millennium Gaming spokesperson Rich Killion said. "Rockingham Park has enjoyed the support of the community of Salem for over a hundred years.

"We know that The Rock is the ideal location in New England for a casino: we have the right location, great infrastructure, a great operator wanting to come in and a 100-year-old brand name with great tradition. We look forward to having a chance to compete with those in Massachusetts and beyond."

The Cordish Companies and Rush Street Gaming have also filed phase one applications, but neither designated whether it intends to seek a full casino license for a slots facility, or where its project would be located. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission released a statement Feb. 11 that both companies must declare by Feb. 19 which type of license is being sought.