A Baltimore-based company that was a last-minute applicant for one of Massachusetts’ gambling licenses is considering a 100,000-square-foot slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, according to town officials.
PPE Casino Resorts, run by the The Cordish Companies, contacted the town earlier this month about the possibility of building a 24-hour slots parlor, said Danvers Selectman Dan Bennett.
The parlor would be located in the rear of the mall, where Marshalls and the facility’s food court is currently located. The initial proposal calls for an approximately 50,000-square-foot addition to be added to the current facility. The proposed slots parlor would have up to 1,250 slot machines and be open 24 hours, according to Bennett.
PPE Casino Resorts was one of 11 gambling companies that submitted a $400,000 application fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission earlier this month. Over the next year, the commission will recommend awarding three casino licenses and one slots parlor permit to operate gambling facilities in the state. The three casinos will be spread out in the Greater Boston area, and the southern and western sections of the state. There are no geographic restraints regarding the single slot parlor; it can be designated anywhere in the state.
In an email, PPE Casino Resorts spokeswoman Ashley Miller would not comment on the Danvers plan and referred the Globe to a Jan. 15 company press release. That release included a statement from Joe Weinberg, the company’s managing partner. “We are very enthusiastic about the Massachusetts market and look forward to working with the State and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on our application,” he said.
PPE Casino Resorts was one of two companies, along with Rush Street Gaming of Chicago, which did not specify a license type or location in its application. To date, two other companies have applied for a slots parlor license. They include Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, and Raynham Park, LLC, in Raynham.
Cordish has developed several other casinos in the country, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos in Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, Florida. The Company also opened Maryland Live! Casino in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area last June.
Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the commission expects to award the slots parlor in the fall, and the three casino licenses in Feb. of 2014.Driscoll said the state’s minimum requirements for a slots parlor call for a $125 million capital investment, a $25 million initial license fee, and added that 40 percent of the gross gaming revenues would go to state taxes. Host communities would have the right to approve or reject a proposal through a referendum, and also would negotiate agreements that could include financial compensation from the designated gaming facility. Surrounding communities also have the right to negotiate agreements with a gaming facility that would address area concerns.
A spokesman for Simon Property Group, owner of the Liberty Tree Mall, said he hadn’t heard anything about a casino planned for the site.
“We never comment on sales or auisitions but in terms of the casino I haven’t heard anything,” said Les Morris, director of property relations for the Simon Property Group. That mall sits on 83.5 acres and opened in 1972.
Around Danvers, reaction was mixed to the possibility of a slots parlor coming to town. Bennett, the selectman, believes Liberty Tree should stay a mall. “I don’t think it’s the highest and best use of the property. It’s a retail shopping center and that’s what it should remain in my opinion.”
Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis declined to specify which gambling company he had spoken with, but acknowledged a gambling company’s representative had called him twice in the last two weeks. He said he had informed the town’s selectmen about the contact.
Kyriakos “Kary” Andrinopoulos, co-owner of New Brothers Restaurant and Deli in Danvers Square, said he would welcome a gambling facility town.
Andrinopoulos, the Danvers Rotary Club’s honorary mayor of Danvers, believes a $125 million investment would mean more jobs and money for the community. “It could also mean lower property taxes, which would be good for businesses and people who own homes,” he said.