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The Boston Globe

West

Mass. official outlines what state seeks in a casino

WESTBOROUGH — Applicants looking to build one of the three resort casinos slated for approval by the state need to have something more than a windowless facility that draws in visitors and makes it hard for them to leave, the head of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said last week.

Stephen Crosby, whose panel is responsible for awarding the casino licenses, made his remarks at Tuesday’s annual meeting of the 495/MetroWest Partnership, celebrating its 10th anniversary, at the Double Tree hotel in Westborough.

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“We have made a major priority . . . of breaking the old model, which is a box in the middle of a space, that has no windows, no way to get out, no clocks, you bring everybody in, and make sure they don’t go outside,” Crosby said.

The commission wants to avoid casinos that “suck all the money you possibly can out of the community into your big enclosed box,’’ he said.

“These have to be outward-facing facilities. These have to be facilities that incorporate and enhance the rest of the community” and help promote local tourism and businesses.

The state is seeking applicants whose designs manifest an appreciation for “the existing Massachusetts brand,” such as the state’s history of economic regeneration. Crosby said the applicant needs to ensure the development would be a destination resort casino, not a convenience casino.

“I refer to it as the ‘wow category,’ ” Crosby said.

One of the proposals is for a site in Milford, where the Foxwoods Resort Casino has proposed a gambling complex alongside Interstate 495.

The Connecticut company is vying for the sole Greater Boston license against two urban proposals. Suffolk Downs in East Boston has proposed a casino with partner Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts wants to build a hotel and casino next to the Mystic River in Everett.

Crosby said it is crucial that the process remain transparent and fair. He added that there must be robust competition for every gaming license.

“We do not have to award the license,” Crosby said. “Each one of these bidders is raising the stakes as they see what competitors are doing.”

John Swinconeck can be reached at johnswinc@ gmail.com.

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