GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 24, 2013

Mall slots casino proposal sparks questions

DANVERS — A casino developer is eyeing Danvers for a 24-hour slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall, but the proposal is already generating concerns from officials there, and among neighboring businesses, including one owned by a couple from Gloucester.

According to several Danvers selectmen, the proposal calls for 1,250 slot machines in the former Sports Authority location at the back of the mall, near Old Navy. The Sports Authority has moved to a new location at the front of the mall.

Town Manager Wayne Marquis said he received a call Jan. 10 from a casino company representative who said Danvers is being considered as a location for a slots parlor, along with another undisclosed location in the state. Marquis consulted with town counsel and other officials, as well as with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, and had a follow-up conversation with a company representative last Thursday, along with Town Counsel Dave DeLuca. Marquis also notified selectmen.

Marquis declined to identify the developer, but several selectmen confirmed that it is PPE Casino Resorts, an affiliate of The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore real estate development company that has built a variety of projects, including hotels and casinos.

Under the state’s complex Gaming Act, residents would have to vote to approve a slots parlor in town. The legislation also makes available a liquor license for the slots parlor, even if a community has maxed out on the number.

The legislation allowing casino gaming in the state calls for three resort casino licenses, each in a different region of the state: western Massachusetts, southeastern Massachusetts and Greater Boston. The law also permits a single slots parlor but does not specify a region.

On Jan. 15, the state announced that it had received 11 gaming applications at the start of a two-phase process and that each applicant had paid the nonrefundable fee of $400,000. Many casino applicants are talking to communities where they might be hosted, said Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the state Gaming Commission; at least three companies, including.

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