A GROUP of Leominster business officials, with the help of former Senate president and now lobbyist Stan Rosenberg, is pursuing a long-shot, end-of-the-legislative-session bid to create a fourth casino region in Massachusetts in northern Worcester County.
Under current state law, there are three casino regions in Massachusetts. The A and B regions are home to Encore Boston Harbor in Everett and MGM Springfield, respectively. Region C in southeastern Massachusetts is currently unoccupied, although the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is hoping to open a casino in Taunton. A slots parlor is located at Plainridge Park in Plainville.
A group calling itself the Leominster Development Group is seeking to carve out a fourth region, called D, which would be made up of the communities of Ashburnham, Fitchburg, Leominster, Lunenburg, and Westminster.
Sen. John Cronin of Leominster filed a bill to create region D, but he said that bill was sent to study, meaning it’s dead for this session as a standalone bill. As the legislative session winds down, he intends to submit the bill as an amendment to legislation likely to pass, such as the economic development bill.
Richard Dionne, an attorney who serves as president of the Leominster Development Group, said the proposed region D is not well served by the existing casinos. Dionne said an analysis of the market conducted by a company hired by his group found a casino in the proposed region D would repatriate money currently flowing out of state, bring gamblers in from out of state, and have little impact on existing Massachusetts casinos. He declined to name the key players behind the development group.
Rosenberg as a state senator helped craft the state’s gaming legislation and for years argued against tinkering with it. But now, as a lobbyist for the Leominster Development Group, he says he is in favor of creating a new casino region in keeping with the original goals of the gambling legislation to create jobs and prevent gambling money from flowing out of state.
“It’s the right time to review this,” he said.
The Cronin legislation has a curious requirement that no gaming license be issued in region D unless the facility is located on a site not less than 70 contiguous acres. Cronin said he had no comment on that requirement, but Dionne said it was included to make sure the new casino is big.
“What the group wants is to bring a full resort casino to this area,” he said.