Somerset developers withdraw from Massachusetts casino competition as New Bedford advances

Industries Associated Press

Developers of a proposed Somerset casino have withdrawn from the competition for Massachusetts' third and final resort casino license.

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The Somerset plan's departure from the competition leaves just two proposals in the running: one for New Bedford's waterfront and another for the Brockton Fairgrounds.

Crossroads Massachusetts LLC, in a brief letter released by state regulators Thursday, said it has withdrawn its application for the license designated for the state's southeastern region.

The letter does not cite a reason. No one from Crossroads was present at the regular meeting of the state Gaming Commission and a representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said Thursday he wasn't surprised about the Somerset plan's demise.

"Nothing surprises me in this business. We never know who is in or out until the last minute," he said.

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The Somerset proposal, which had been eyed for a large swath of town-owned land, had sought more time from regulars in recent months as its leadership team changed structure and it scrambled to assemble financing.

Commission members extended deadlines for the proposal but increasingly expressed doubts about that project's viability.

With Somerset officially out of the competition, attention now shifts to New Bedford and Brockton.

Voters in Brockton on Tuesday narrowly approved a casino referendum calling for a $650 million resort on the fairgrounds located next to the high school.

That plan is being developed by Mass Gaming and Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based company that operates casinos in Pennsylvania and other states.

The New Bedford casino proposal, meanwhile, was allowed to move forward in the competition Thursday.

The state Gaming Commission, after some debate, voted to deem the developers' initial application "substantially complete," on the condition that they submit more financial details in two weeks.

"We're really just down to the final economic terms," said Scott Butera, a former Foxwoods CEO who is now a partner with KG Urban Enterprises, a New York-based firm that wants to build a $650 million Foxwoods resort on the site of a former NStar power plant.

Gaming and Leisure Properties, a Pennsylvania-based company, which owns more than a dozen casinos in Illinois, Louisiana and other states, has agreed to purchase the power plant site, build the casino complex and lease it back to KG Urban Enterprises.

Foxwoods, an Indian tribe-owned Connecticut casino company, has also agreed to serve as the facility's operator.

Gaming commissioners expressed frustration at the delays, but ultimately stopped short of disqualifying the application for the sake of competition for the regional license.

"Our patience is not unlimited," warned Crosby. "Word to the wise: this has got to get moving quickly."