One day after voters elected two anti-casino members to Foxborough’s board of selectmen, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and casino developer Steve Wynn announced today they are suspending plans to build a destination casino on land Kraft owns in the town.
“With Monday’s election, we believe the citizens of Foxborough have spoken,’’ the Kraft Group said this afternoon in a statement. “As we originally committed, we have heard them and respect their collective voice. With that democratic statement, as opposed to the voices of five individuals, we will be suspending our efforts regarding a destination resort development.’’
In a companion statement, Wynn Resorts said it would also respect the majority’s support for the anti-casino candidates.
“Yesterday’s election demonstrates the community’s will and Wynn Resorts respects the outcome. We would like to thank all the Foxborough residents who supported the proposed resort and reached out to discuss the opportunity,’’ the company said in its statement.
The Kraft-Wynn decision eliminates an experienced, well-financed competitor to the team hoping to build a casino at East Boston’s Suffolk Downs. But because the Greater Boston casino is expected to be the most lucrative of the licenses the state will auction, there is likely to be interest from other companies.
The state gambling commission is authorized to license up to three casino resorts and one slot parlor.
Wynn’s withdrawal from Foxborough is also a boon for nearby Plainridge Racecourse, in Plainville, which is seeking a state license to open a slot parlor at the track.
“It makes us more comfortable there is not a casino bid four miles away,” said Plainridge President Gary Piontkowski. “It puts us in a little better position. I’m sure my fellow horsemen at Suffolk Downs are having a celebratory day.”
In Monday’s election, 58 percent of Foxborough’s registered voters elected Virginia M. Coppola, a former state representative and a casino opponent, and reelected casino opponent and incumbent Selectwoman Lorraine Brue.
Stephanie Crimmins, one of the primary organizers of the grass roots group No Foxborough Casino, welcomed the decision by Wynn and Kraft, and Kraft’s decision to be guided by the result of Monday’s election.
“This is obviously terrific news,’’ Crimmins said. “We are incredibly grateful to the citizens of Foxborough for coming out in force and also incredibly appreciative of Mr. Kraft for listening to residents. We thank him for his generosity and look forward to a continued, productive relationship going forward.”
Millie Cetrone, a real estate agent with Century 21 on Main Street who supported the casino, said she was more than disappointed with the news that Kraft and Wynn had given up on their plan—she was saddened.
“Wynn is the best of the best and the town let him walk away,’’ Cetrone said. “I sell real estate for a living and it was ‘location, location, location.’ This was the best place for a casino and we let it slip through our little fingers. I think we lost a golden opportunity.”
Cetrone said the casino uproar was also a slap in the face to Kraft, the town’s largest taxpayer, and she said she hoped both Kraft and the community can get over it.
“No matter what, people are going to love Bob Kraft,’’ Cetrone said. “He’s a class act.”
Selectman Mark Sullivan, after hearing of the Kraft-Wynn announcement, said simply, “It’s about time.’’
Sullivan, who did not support a casino, had to send his family to a safe house last month after being threatened by a casino supporter to change his vote or end up “a dead man.”
“This is a good day for Foxborough,” Sullivan said. “Nothing has been easy for anyone for the last eight or nine months.’’
Sullivan said he’s glad the Krafts have decided to move on. He said he hoped the town can begin to heal their fractured relationship with Kraft.
The big loser is former selectman Larry Harrington, who took the brunt of the casino opposition and was voted out Monday because of it, Sullivan said.
Harrington never declared support for the casino but said he thought all voters deserved to be heard.
“It’s tough to lose a great guy like Larry,’’ Sullivan said. “If [Kraft and Wynn] had made this announcement a week ago, Larry would still be on the board.”