New Bedford group abandons casino proposal

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Written by Michael P. Norton

Brockton on Wednesday suddenly became the sole applicant in play for the southeastern Massachusetts commercial resort casino license after a rival bidder dropped its plans for a waterfront casino in New Bedford, citing difficulties assembling financing.

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission early Wednesday evening confirmed the commission received a letter from KG Urban Wednesday afternoon announcing its withdrawal from the licensing process. The commission plans to meet on Thursday when further discussion of the development is expected, the spokeswoman said.

KG New Bedford LLC Vice President Barry Gossin wrote in a letter to Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby, “As you can well imagine, we deeply regret reaching this conclusion, but we believe our decision is in the best interests of all involved.”

In the letter, obtained by the News Service, Gossin said the Cannon Street project was being abandoned as the company’s lenders and partners “have been unable to create a viable financing package for the project.”

“The reluctance of lenders to provide the requisite financing is due to several factors, including the possibility of competition from a nearby Indian casino which would pay no taxes or other compensation to the Commonwealth,” Gossin wrote. “Given the uncertainty of obtaining viable financing for the project and the time constraints of the license application process we cannot justify investing any additional funds in the project beyond the significant amount already invested.”

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has plans for a casino in Taunton, but that project has become hung up in the federal government bureaucracy.

State gaming industry regulators indicated in early July that the region’s commercial casino license will likely be awarded in March 2016, but could be issued as early as January 2016. According to the commission, detailed second-phase applications for the southeastern Massachusetts region casino license are due on Sept. 30.

Mass Gaming & Entertainment seized on the news to tout the potential for its planned resort casino in Brockton to generate $100 million a year in new state revenues and up to $12 million a year in annual payments to the city.

“The establishment of a resort casino will also be an anchor in the economic revitalization of Brockton, which is one of several minority/majority cities in the Commonwealth,” Mass Gaming & Entertainment said. “Providing 1500 permanent jobs to Brockton residents will also contribute to the local economy of Brockton and spur development of new local businesses throughout the region.”

In June, New Bedford voters voted 73.3 percent to 26.6 percent to endorse the idea of hosting a $650 million casino development.

A roughly 140-vote margin secured a win for Mass Gaming and Entertainment and Rush Street Gaming in Brockton in May.

Brockton’s emergence as the sole applicant for the licenses comes as candidates enter a special election race to fill the Senate seat long held by Thomas Kennedy of Brockton, who passed away this month.