Monday, July 14, 2008

UMass Poll Indicates Residents Favor New Bedford Casino

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One of the developers interested in building a casino in Massachusetts sponsored a UMass poll that showed a majority of New Bedford residents favor a casino in that city.

Out of the 474 people called in the poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 53 percent said that they favor a casino in New Bedford, 20 percent were opposed and 27 percent were undecided. According to SouthCoastToday, these statistics were reported in a press release from Dr. Clyde W. Barrow, director of the UMass Center for Policy Analysis that conducted the poll.

Commercial casino gambling is not legal in Massachusetts. Governor Deval Patrick's commercial casino plan was rejected by the state's legislature this year but the pursuit of both megacasinos and arming racetracks with slot machines is likely to again be taken seriously in next year's legislative session.

The Northeast Resort Group, the poll's sponsor, suggested the Logan Heights section of New Bedford as a site for a possible casino. Besides New Bedford, the Northeast Resort Group originally proposed a casino in the western Massachusetts town of Palmer. It is the Palmer site where the Mohegan Tribe, partnering with the Northeast Resort Group, put forward as a prospective location should casinos be legalized.

The voters of Palmer supported casino gaming in a nonbinding referendum in 1997, according to Paul I. Brody, Mohegan's vice president of development.

A Forbes article in March "With Friends Like These" said "(Dragone) been sued twice by investors who claimed he defrauded them in deals involving gambling. He was ordered to pay restitution in one case and settled the second for undisclosed terms. Mohegan's Etess says Dragone is merely the landowner and would play no role in the casino."

Peter Picknelly, president of Massachusetts-based Peter Pan Bus Lines, joined Dragone's Northeast Group as an investor in January. It was at this time that the they announced their interest in New Bedford as their second proposed location. Picknelly is reportedly investing in both the Palmer and New Bedford casino projects. Picknelly also served as a member of Governor Deval Patrick's transition team in addition to running Peter Pan Bus Lines, the largest privately-owned bus company in the country.

The Pennsylania Real Estate Trust is also part of the group that includes the Mohegan Tribe.