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Anti-Casino Measure Defeated in Massachusetts

Wynn Resorts Ltd. and MGM Resorts International will build casinos in Massachusetts.

More than 60 percent of voters decided not to repeal the 2011 law that allowed three casinos and a slots parlor to be built in Massachusetts. That means Wynn Resorts will move forward with its $1.6 billion resort casino in Everett, and MGM’s proposed $800 million project in Springfield.

Penn National Gaming was given its license earlier in the year to build a slot parlor, which is expected to open by the middle of next year. The projects proposed by Las Vegas-based MGM and Wynn have been approved, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission held off on awarding either project a license until after Question 3 referendum had been settled.

Analysts believe both gaming companies will pay an $85 million licensing fee to receive their licenses, and break ground on their projects.

"Wynn was the big winner as the license for the Boston area was always deemed the largest prize," said Kim Noland, director of high yield research at Gimme Credit.

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Both MGM and Wynn could use some U.S. development growth -- while their properties in Las Vegas have shown better results this year, growth in Macau has stalled and is not expected to grow much next year due to government crackdowns and a smoking ban.

Noland forecasts the Boston area to deliver $700 to $800 million in gaming revenue annually. Massachusetts will take 49 percent of gambling revenues from the slot parlor and 25 percent from casinos in taxes when the projects open.

The process to award a third casino, in Southeastern Massachusetts, has been delayed until summer 2015. Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM, said a legalized casino industry has created thousands of jobs in the Bay State.

“MGM Resorts International would like to thank voters … for their support of the billions of dollars of economic benefits and 10,000 permanent job opportunities provided by the Gaming Act of 2011,” Murren said. “Our gratitude is likely surpassed only by that of the city of Springfield, and its people, who have demonstrated inspirational resolve and commitment for a brighter future throughout the entire process.”

MGM is expected to begin construction on the casino in the spring of 2015. The MGM Springfield project will be built on 14.4 acres of downtown Springfield, and is scheduled to open in summer 2017.

Murren said Tuesday’s defeat of Question 3 “showed us that people really understood what was at stake.” He said now MGM will “begin the work of rebuilding a great downtown, and igniting a renaissance in Western Massachusetts.”

The Greater Boston licensee was designated in September. The gaming commission picked Wynn Resorts’ $1.6 billion proposal over Mohegan Sun’s $1.3 billion casino plan for Suffolk Downs in Revere. MGM was chosen for the Western Massachusetts region and Penn National was awarded a license to operate a slot parlor in Plainville.

“Tonight, we get to work on creating four thousand great-paying careers and generating millions of dollars in tax revenues to businesses throughout Massachusetts,” Robert DeSavio, senior vice president of Wynn Resorts, said Tuesday after the polls closed. “While it has been a long process, the benefits to everyone in the commonwealth will be worth it.”

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