There’s still a long road before the deal is done, but the Mashpee Wampanoags have settled on a site in Taunton for a proposed casino. The city is about 37 miles south of Boston and less than 20 miles east of Providence, R.I. The tribe has until July 31 to secure a site and negotiate a compact with the state for a casino in the Southeast region; if it fails to do so, the region opens up to a competitive bid.
In mid-February, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a casino developer who felt the law gave an unfair advantage to any eligible tribe interested in building a casino.
The tribe is expected to ask the city to schedule a referendum for the casino, as required by law, and it would appear the initial reception from residents is positive. Certainly much more positive than in Foxboro, some 20 miles to the north, where a proposed casino at Gillette Stadium was not well received.
Although the Taunton site seems to be a good one, neighboring Raynham Park might not think so. That former racetrack and current simulcast facility has eyes on the state’s lone slot parlor license. Another looking for that license is Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, about 22 miles northwest of Taunton. And it is likely that other bidders will surface, as the slot parlor is not guaranteed to go to a racetrack.
Raynham would have to prove it could compete well enough with a Taunton casino to win the license – a challenging, but not impossible task.
In Philadelphia, for example, two casinos were licensed within three miles of each other – the SugarHouse Casino and the proposed Foxwoods casino. The latter’s license was revoked after endless delays and so the second Philadelphia casino is on hold. However, two other casinos are in relatively close proximity – PARX Casino and Racing is about 16 miles to the north of SugarHouse and Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack is about 19 miles to its south. So within that 34 mile radius, there are currently three full casinos with slots and table games (two with racetracks). Combined, they have more than 8,100 slot machines, and there is still another license available. For the seven months ending in January, they combined to produce almost $472 million in net slot revenues, about one-third of the statewide total from 10 casinos.