NEW BEDFORD – Developers behind the New Bedford casino proposal again received more time Thursday to close a financial deal, as state gaming officials set a “guillotine” June 9 deadline that kept the $650 million project alive for at least two more weeks.
And once again, as it has been for the past several months, it was a very close shave, like blackjack players staying at the table by winning on their last chips.
“We would be well within our rights to say that we didn’t get what we were looking for,” Stephen Crosby, chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, told a leading partner in the New Bedford casino bid, suggesting that the commission could have rejected the entire application today.
“(But) I happen to not think that would be appropriate,” Crosby added.
Andrew Stern, operating partner for New York-based developer KG Urban Enterprises, acknowledged to commissioners in Boston that KG Urban has not yet finalized its deal with its key investor, Pennsylvania-based Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI).
“We do not have a signed term sheet,” Stern said.
Commissioners, in turn, acknowledged that their May 14 request for progress on the deal had some "gray area," and may not have clearly indicated that a deal had to be signed by today. Stern said his understanding was that only incremental progress was needed by today, and said the two draft, unsigned term sheets KG Urban sent state gaming staff Wednesday “more than showed” that.
So — as they did in February, March and earlier this month — commissioners granted KG Urban more time Thursday to submit application materials.
Commissioner James McHugh cautioned, though, that if a signed term sheet is not submitted by 5 p.m., June 9, to Karen Wells, the commission’s director of investigations and enforcement, the commission would use “the guillotine instead of the butter knife.”
A citywide casino referendum is scheduled for June 23.
Public forums on KG Urban’s proposal are scheduled in the city on June 4, June 10 and June 17.
KG Urban’s casino development is proposed for the 43-acre site of an abandoned NStar power plant on the waterfront, off MacArthur Drive.
A Brockton casino proposed by Mass Gaming & Entertainment is New Bedford’s sole competition for the single resort casino license the commission can allocate in southeastern Massachusetts.
Brockton voters narrowly approved Mass Gaming’s $650 million proposal for a Brockton Fairgrounds site May 12, in that city’s referendum.