Tax collections would drop if Brockton casino OK’d, consultant says

The proposed casino would sit on the site of the Brockton Fairgrounds.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File
The proposed casino would sit on the site of the Brockton Fairgrounds.

BROCKTON — Massachusetts could lose some $42 million a year in tax revenue if a proposed resort casino here wins approval and competes with a tribal casino in Taunton, a consultant hired by the state Gaming Commission said Tuesday.

As the commission began its public deliberations on the Brockton casino plan, Rob Scarpelli of HLT Advisory, a longtime consultant to the panel, projected that the state would collect about $433 million in annual gambling taxes if full-scale casinos open in Springfield, Everett, and Taunton, along with the slot parlor that opened last year in Plainville.

The commission has already approved a $950 million MGM Resorts casino in Springfield and a $2 billion Wynn Resorts casino in Everett. As a tribe, the Mashpee, which broke ground on a $1 billion casino earlier this month, can operate a casino without a state license.


But if the commission approves the Brockton casino, putting two large gambling facilities within 20 miles of each other, the state’s annual revenue would fall to an estimated $391 million, Scarpelli said.

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Under a previous agreement with the state, the casino planned by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on reservation land would not pay any tax to the state unless it is given exclusive rights to the region. If the Brockton casino is rejected, the tribe would pay 17 percent of gambling revenue to the state.

The five-member commission is holding daylong hearings on the Brockton proposal before voting later this week, probably on Thursday or Friday.

The developer behind the Brockton casino, Mass Gaming & Entertainment, has said recent marketing studies indicate that the state will maximize tax revenue by approving the Brockton casino.

Scarpelli, however, rejected that finding. “No, that is not the case,” Scarpelli said.


Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a partnership of Chicago-based developer Neil Bluhm and local businessman George Carney, and city officials have billed the $677 million project as an economic catalyst for the city.

Commission member Lloyd Macdonald presented an economic profile of Brockton that showed that the city has lost almost 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2001 and now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

While the city’s population of about 94,000 has remained steady in recent years, the number of children has exploded to 26 percent of residents, the highest figure in the state. Almost half of them are classified as “economically disadvantaged,” twice the statewide rate.

“This is a city deeply challenged,” Macdonald said.

Also on Tuesday, Karen Wells, head of the commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau, reported that an Illinois casino owned by Bluhm’s company was fined earlier this year after questions were raised over a security and maintenance contractor’s ties to reputed mob figures.


Wells told the board that while the $1.65 million fine levied against the Rivers casino in Des Plaines, Ill., was of concern, it did not cause her to change her earlier determination that Mass Gaming & Entertainment was qualified to receive a casino license.

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @spmurphyboston.