When Massachusetts lawmakers passed a gambling law in 2011, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission created a timeline that could reasonably be described as glacial. Even so, progress is finally being made and competition for the available licenses has been fierce. With up to 3 regional casinos plus a slot parlor license up for grabs, several companies anted up the $400,000 fee to be considered during the approval process.
The details of the MassGaming timeline can be found at their website. The slot parlor is to be licensed first with a decision expected by Fall 2013. Two of the regional casinos will follow in February 2014, when licenses will be awarded for the Boston area and Western Massachusetts. The license for the third casino is on hold for now with further consideration delayed until March 2013 at the earliest. The delay stems from several legal matters with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, including whether they will be allowed under Federal law to take the needed land into Federal trust.
For the other licenses, a recent article in Global Gaming Business magazine indicates that eleven companies have filed paperwork and paid the fee to be considered as licensees. The financial and criminal background investigation process now includes over 21,000 documents for the commission to sift through.
The competitive landscape around the state has changed a lot in the two years since the law passed, with neighboring states of Rhode Island, New York, and New Hampshire already working on expanding the types of gambling available in their states. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick defends the slow pace, saying “We are as committed as we possibly can be to getting this done as quickly as we can get it done, but it has to be done in a way that ensures the quality and integrity of the process.”
While the process may be moving slower than some companies would like, the elaborate proposals being pitched show that this market is still seen as a cherry to be picked, with or without the competition from expanded gaming in neighboring states. Both the Boston casino and the Western casino look to have large markets that could make the licenses lucrative.
For now, we’ll just settle in and wait, along with the citizens of the Bay State.