Casino in Tewksbury? - Tewksbury Town Crier: News

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Casino in Tewksbury?

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 7:28 am

TEWKSBURY and WYOMISSING, PA  - A casino development firm and the Town of Tewksbury in a joint statement announced late Thursday an effort to bring a slots-only casino to north Tewksbury.

According to a press release, the project, developed by Penn National Gaming, Inc., is budgeted at more than $200 million and would be located at 300 Ames Pond Drive, near the intersection of 495 and Route 133 – Andover Street.  Penn National will bring its ‘Hollywood’ casino brand to the 30-acre site, offering “multiple dining options and other amenities.”

“We are encouraged by the preliminary discussions we’ve had with town leadership and hope to quickly come to an agreement on a project that would bring significant economic benefits to Tewksbury and the entire Merrimack Valley region in the form of new jobs and revenue,” said Eric Schippers, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Penn National Gaming.

Local officials offered support for the project.

“Penn National Gaming is one of the nation’s largest regional casino operators and has an established record of building strong community partnerships and delivering on their commitments,” said Richard Montuori, Tewksbury Town Manager.  “We are excited about their interest in Tewksbury.”

“The economic benefits to Tewksbury from a project of this size and scale would be substantial,” said Scott Wilson, Chairman of the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen.  “This is an important economic development opportunity that we need to fully explore.”

Representatives from Penn National will offer a presentation at the Selectmen meeting on Tuesday night, July 16, beginning at 7:00 pm. Applications for the state’s sole slot license must be submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission by October 4th, 2013, following passage of a referendum in the applicant’s host community, leaving little time to develop that proposal and ballot question.

This proposal represents the fifth slot proposal in the state, including efforts in Worcester, Leominster, Raynham Park, and Plainridge Racecourse.

The closest developed casino by this firm is in Bangor, Maine, which began as a slots-only casino in 2006 and recently added table games in 2012. That location includes nearly 1,000 slot machines, 16 table games, and a hotel.  According to the Bangor Daily News, between August 2009 and August 2010, the average monthly net revenue at Hollywood Slots was just over $5 million, and revenue never dipped below $4 million in any month. Revenue did reduce slightly in 2011, but has increased and jobs have been added since the introduction of table games in 2012.

Penn National proposed an $800 million casino in Springfield, MA last fall that would include a 300,000 square foot casino with 5,000 slot machines, table games, a poker room with up to thirty tables, and a 500 room hotel. Springfield chose MGM Resorts in April 2013 to move forward in the development process and the city will have a referendum vote Tuesday, July 16. 

UPDATED: The Town Crier reached out to Jay Donovan of the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG), the regional planning agency to which Tewksbury belongs, to find out the role of NMCOG in this process. Donovan indicated that NMCOG was only recently made aware of Penn Gaming's interest and stated that he would be contacting NMCOG's  regional planning agency (RPA) counterparts in Springfield and Taunton later Friday to determine the specific responsibilities the local RPA may have.

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