Brockton voters approve casino, barely

Brockton voters said yes on hosting a casino Tuesday.
Brockton voters said yes on hosting a casino Tuesday. –AP

Asked whether they wanted to bring a casino into the city, Brockton voters said yes, just barely.

Tuesday’s city referendum was a key checkpoint on the quest to open a $650 million gambling resort on the Brockton Fairgrounds, as state law requires local approval in order to win a casino license.

According to The Enterprise, yes and no were separated by all of 143 votes, with more than 14,000 having gone to the polls on Tuesday. But that’s good enough to send the proposal forward as it continues to compete for the state’s final casino license.

Should prospective developer Mass Gaming & Entertainment win the southeastern Massachusetts license, it would pay Brockton $10 million per year. The business is a subsidiary of midwest casino company Rush Street Gaming, and is partnered with fairgrounds owner George Carney.

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This is Carney’s second go at a casino license, having lost out in 2014 in an attempt to open a slots parlor at the Raynham Park race track, which he also owns. The slots parlor license was awarded to Penn National Gaming, whose Plainville establishment will open next month. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has also already awarded two resort casino licenses: one for western Massachusetts, to MGM Resorts in Springfield, and one for Greater Boston, to Wynn Resorts in Everett.

The Brockton group is one of three applicants vying for the southeastern Massachusetts license, and the first one to face a referendum. A competing New Bedford casino plan is scheduled to go to a vote on June 23. The third proposal, in Somerset, has not yet set a date.

Mass Gaming & Entertainment was the only one to have turned in its full application to the state gaming commission on time.

The New Bedford applicant, however, submitted letters earlier this month showing that it has secured financial backing, and suggesting that finalizing its application was a matter of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. The group in Somerset has seemingly made less progress, and has asked for an extension from the gaming commission.

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The commission is expected to address the regional casino competition at a Thursday meeting. It will do so knowing Brockton’s in play, its supporters having narrowly avoided a bad beat.

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