Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chief Glenn Marshall wants gamblers to risk their hard earned dollars at his proposed casino. He wants the residents of Middleboro to risk their town’s future, quality of life and safety in return for a bigger town budget. He wants the Bay State to risk opening a Pandora’s box by approving class 3 gambling. And yet, he’s hardly willing to throw a few chips of his own on the table. In fact, in light of what he’s asking of everyone else, it would appear that Mr. Marshall is downright risk-averse.
That’s because he’d prefer to follow the same old tried and true Indian-Casino-in-the-Woods model that has worked so well down in Connecticut, than to take a chance on an untried and untested New England style Casino-by-the-Sea in New Bedford.
But he should. As more and more gambling facilities pop up in our region, they’ll eventually find themselves competing on their ability to provide something unique.
Imagine this: Instead of driving to yet another Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, you and your expendable income could motor down the coast for an exciting seaside adventure in an historic city perched on the edge of an economic upswing. Moonlight cruises would transport visitors from Boston and Plymouth and Newport to a New Bedford casino resort for an evening of dining, dancing, shopping and gambling. Romantic strolls would take place along an antique brick shore-walk.
And the opportunities for dining would tantalize even-non gamblers to line up for a meal and a few games of chance. A casino in New Bedford could boast honestly of it’s fresh Seafood. And I’d bet that Emeril Lagasse himself would be delighted to locate one of his world class restaurants in one of the very hubs of Portuguese-American cuisine.
With all the things worth experiencing in a renewed New Bedford waterfront, tourists will be lured away from the insanely expensive ocean-front hotels in Boston to spend their vacations at a resort casino the Whaling City.
The breeze off the ocean. Boats bobbing in the harbor. Old fashioned glass lanterns illuminating the sidewalks at night. Imagine.
Or… they could trudge to Middleboro for swamps, box turtles and cranberry bogs.
Though Mr. Marshall would be taking a risk by straying from the established casino-in-the-woods model, it wouldn’t be a very big one - because it makes better business sense to locate in New Bedford.
For one thing, his casino is welcome there. City government and business interests would be more willing to make concessions down the road. And it’s already an urban environment. Infrastructure and an ample labor force are already readily available. And $30 million to modify an interchange beats $300,000 million to rework Routes 495 and 44 any day. And those are just the initial figures. In Massachusetts, we are all well acquainted with what a bottomless money pit extensive road construction can become.
The Pequot’s in Connecticut had to build their casinos in the woods because they had to locate them on their reservations. But the Mashpee Wampanoag’s are blessed with a choice.
So take the chance, Mr. Marshall. Make it happen.