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Plan for slot parlor in Worcester is off

Chicago developer, city are unable to reach deal on gambling proposal

Chicago casino and real ­estate tycoon Neil Bluhm is abandoning plans for a slot machine parlor in Worcester, after being unable to reach an agreement with local officials for the city to host the gambling business, Bluhm and the city ­announced Monday evening.

The billionaire has not ruled out trying again to win a Massachusetts gambling license in ­another community, said Greg Carlin, chief executive of Bluhm’s company, Rush Street Gaming, by e-mail.

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Bluhm could move his slot parlor proposal to another city or town, or pursue a resort casino license in Southeastern Massachusetts, which only recently opened to applications from commercial casino developers.

In the statement, Bluhm suggested the 49 percent state tax on gambling profits at the slot parlor was a factor in the failure to reach an agreement.

“We have been working in good faith for several months to develop a strong slots casino plan for the city,” Bluhm said in the statement. “This has been a complex undertaking, with a multitude of factors impacting the project including the high state tax rate for the [slot parlor], the reasonable mitigation requests from the city, and escalating development and operating costs. It recently became clear that we could not reach a mutually satisfactory host community agreement.’’

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City Manager Michael V. O’Brien said, “Both sides worked very hard to meet the reasonable expectations of the parties, but we could not get to a deal and felt it was in our collective best interests to conclude without a host agreement.”

Ed Moynihan, spokesman for the anticasino group Vote No Slots, said in an interview he was “thrilled that it failed. . . . We thought it was a flawed proposal.”

The 2011 state casino law authorized one slot machine parlor that can be built anywhere in the state, as well as up to three resort casinos. Other applicants for the slots license include Plainridge Racecourse, in Plainville; Raynham Park; and The Cordish Companies, which has not yet named a site.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at marsenault@globe.com.
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