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March 22, 2013

Report Frowns On Slots In Worcester

The economic benefits from a slots parlor in Worcester would be overshadowed by the harm it will cause to the city's quality of life, says a new report from the Worcester Regional Research Bureau (WRRB).

Its 11-page report, released today, said most revenue from urban-area casinos comes from nearby residents rather than from "high rollers" who travel into the area. In Worcester's case, the report continued, that will tend to be "the least well-off members of the community."

The WRRB cited a 2004 study that found that people living within 10 miles of large-scale gaming operations were at a 90-percent increased risk of developing gambling problems. It also said the gambling mecca of Las Vegas has the highest rate of suicides in the United States, "a significant number of which are local residents," along with "exceptionally high rates" of poverty, crime, bankruptcy, automobile accidents, child abuse and "pathological addictions of various kinds."

Earlier this month, a Chicago gaming developer, Rush Street Gaming, took the first steps toward securing Worcester as the site for the only slots parlor in the state, guaranteed by the gaming expansion legislation signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2011.

Mass Gaming & Entertainment LLC, a Rush Street subsidiary, is one of four entities seeking the one slots license. It's competing with Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, Raynham Park in Raynham and PPC Casino Resorts, which has yet to announce a location.

Mass Gaming has not announced an exact location. However, a 14-acre site owned by manufacturer Wyman-Gordon has been at the forefront of the conversation of city gaming since the beginning of the year. That's when Cambridge-based hotel developer Richard L. Friedman told the city that he had entered into a long-term agreement with Wyman-Gordon, giving his firm the right to build. He said he was seeking a gaming developer to partner with. The Wyman-Gordon site, near Kelley Square, is the subject of an ongoing study determining whether the city should seize it by eminent domain.

The research bureau's report also said the casino industry is in economic decline, with newer facilities "cannibalizing" revenue from rival sites. Casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., for instance, "have experienced six straight years of declining revenues," the bureau said.

The bureau "doubts that any supposed … economic benefits from locating a slots parlor in Worcester can possibly outweigh the harm it will cause to the quality of our civic life," it wrote.

Read more

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Slots Parlor Not The Best Fit For Downtown Worcester

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