Casino Plan Under Debate

Massachusetts theatre and performing arts center officials are said to be leery of a proposal to allow resort-style casinos in the state because of potential competition to book acts.

State lawmakers were reportedly scheduled April 13 to debate a bill that would allow two resort casinos and up to 3,000 slot machines for state race tracks.

At issue is the use of “radius clauses” that limit other venues within up to 100 miles from booking the same show, which could make it difficult for theatres and PACs to fill their schedules.

Local venue reps also claim they can’t compete with casinos that offer lower-priced tickets to lure patrons in, hoping to make money from slot machines or the tables.

Jeff Poulos, executive director of StageSource, and the Greater Boston Alliance, which represents more than 200 theaters and 2,000 performers in New England, reportedly said venue reps in Boston, Lowell, New Bedford and Springfield are worried about the potential economic fallout if the casino plan is approved.

Hanover Theatre exec Troy Siebels reportedly said he’s not opposed to casinos but is concerned about keeping the 2,300-capacity nonprofit in Worcester open if its patrons chose to go elsewhere for shows and other entertainment.

Siebels is trying to get an amendment added to the bill that would limit the number of casino theatre seats to 1,000 as well as prevent casinos from booking Broadway shows.

Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun is among those vying to open a casino in Massachusetts.

State legislators were reportedly discussing several amendments to the proposed casino bill that would protect local PACs but still bring in much-needed jobs to the area.