Casino Plan Divides Mass. Town
The owner of the New England Patriots and a major Las Vegas casino operator expressed disappointment Wednesday with a vote by local officials to oppose a casino across from the NFL team’s home field at Gillette Stadium, but said they had not decided on their next move.
The 3-2 vote Tuesday night followed a highly-charged emotional meeting attended by hundreds of town residents. Many residents spoke out strongly against a casino, but others urged the town to hold off on a final decision until details of the proposal were formally unveiled.
The vote by the Board of Selectmen was non-binding, meaning the casino proposal could still be considered at a later time.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and casino executive Steve Wynn have urged that the plan be considered by voters in a town-wide referendum.
“We’re disappointed with the Board’s decision to deny (Foxborough) taxpayers the due process they are entitled under the state’s gaming law,’’ The Kraft Group and Wynn Resorts said in a brief statement issued Wednesday. “We have not made any decisions regarding next steps.’’
The casino law, passed by the state Legislature last year and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, would allow up to three resort-style casinos to be built in Massachusetts along with one slots parlor. The law requires voters in a host community to approve of a casino plan before it can go forward.
Kraft has proposed leasing the land along U.S. Route 1 to Wynn for a $1 billion hotel and casino. NFL rules prohibit teams from owning casinos.
Kraft and Wynn have said the project would create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in annual tax revenue for the town. Opponents say it will lead to an increase in crime and traffic congestion, and ruin the character of the town.
Selectman Mark Sullivan, who voted with casino opponents, said he personally visited with representatives of the Kraft Group and urged them to withdraw the plan because of the divisiveness it was causing.