Leominster group pursuing fourth casino region
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.
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.
– “The FTA’s findings and the MBTA’s subsequent service cuts don’t inspire any public confidence in our transit system,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka in a joint statement. “Since 2015, at his request, Gov. [Charlie] Baker has had control of the MBTA. It has since been the administration’s responsibility to keep up with maintenance and manage an efficient system that customers can rely on. Given the FTA’s interim findings and alarming directives, there is an increased need to better understand the agency’s shortcomings and help restore public confidence.”
– Rep. William Straus, the House chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, which will conduct the oversight hearings, said the $400 million in bond funding added to an economic development bill is a placeholder that can be adjusted up or down. The expectation is that safety directives issued by the FTA will come with hefty price tags. Read more.
East-West rail funding: The redrafted economic development bill contains language authorizing $250 million for development of a rail link between Worcester and Pittsfield, but says nothing about a new authority to oversee the multi-billion-dollar project. Gov. Charlie Baker had pushed for the new authority, but House and Senate leaders say other work needs to be done first. Read more.
SJC to rule in moot DiMasi case: The Supreme Judicial Court agrees to hear an appeal of the Sal DiMasi lobbying case even though the decision will no longer have any impact on the former House speaker himself. DiMasi was convicted in 2011 of public corruption and extortion. He sought to become a lobbyist in 2019, but Secretary of State William Galvin refused to register him. DiMasi won on appeal, arguing the state law banning convicted felons from registering as lobbyists applied to people convicted of state, not federal, crimes. Galvin appealed, and the SJC decided even though the 10-year time limit has passed it will rule on the matter because the legal issue “is of great public importance and is likely to recur.” Read more.
Promoting Pier 5: Sherrie Cutler, Rosemary Macero, and Kathy Elliott explain why the abandoned Pier 5 in Charlestown matters to the city of Boston and could become an iconic open space. Read more.
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