arlier this month, state Treasurer Timothy Cahill unveiled a proposal for Rhode Island-style slot-machine parlors in the Bay State. He estimated that Massachusetts could generate up to us$ 3 billion in upfront licensing fees and as much as us$ 250 million annually if 9,000 machines were allowed. Casinos with only slot machines could be built faster and more economically than full-scale casinos, Cahill argued, putting cash into the state coffers sooner.
Mohegan has secured a lease on a 152-acre site in Palmer, off Exit 8 of the Massachusetts Turnpike. It has proceeded with a casino plan even without much movement on Beacon Hill toward legalizing casino gambling. But Etess - who is expected to discuss plans for Palmer tomorrow in a speech before the Smaller Business Association of New England - said he will wait to see if House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s position changes on the issue.
In the meantime, Jeffrey Hartmann, Mohegan’s COO, has scheduled a meeting with Beacon Hill’s Springfield delegation for April 3 to update them on his company’s plans for a gambling facility in western Massachusetts. “Some are on board with what we hope to do, while others want more information about the benefits of a resort-style casino,” he said.
Despite an economy that has seen slot revenues at Mohegan fall by 9 % in February, Etess remains positive on the Palmer site. “The capital markets are closed today,” he said. “But when you figure it will take until 2010 to award licenses, create a regulatory body, do the bidding and vetting process, that takes you into 2010, and the credit markets should be open by then.”