A packed house came to Fall River Government Center Thursday night to hear the casino pitch from Foxwoods.
Foxwoods President and CEO Scott Butera told NBC 10, “We think Fall River is a beautiful place. We think we can do a lot to enhance the city both socially and economically.”
Butera, Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, and other city officials spoke to the crowd about the benefits of bringing a casino to the city.
Foxwoods is proposing a $750 million resort casino on the current site of the New Harbour Mall off Route 24.
Flanagan told the audience, “It's jobs and revenue for the city. Is it the panacea? Is it going to solve all our issues? No.”
Foxwoods says it would hire 2000 workers and make substantial payments to the city.
The city and Foxwoods are still working on the deal but Flanagan told NBC 10 the payments would be on the scale of the casino deal in Springfield, which would have that city in Western Massachusetts get $15 million up front and $25 million a year.
That sounds good to supporters.
Natalie Tavares told NBC 10, “We don't have many opportunities of jobs coming into the city. The city needs the revenue. It needs the jobs.”
The arguments pro and con are typical of a casino debate.
One man in the crowd said, “They see this as somebody going to come in, drop their welfare checks, drop their unemployment checks, their disability checks, whatever.”
City officials tried to counter concerns about crime, impact on local businesses and a nearby school, and traffic.
Denise Taylor lives near the site. “Very concerned. I'm concerned about traffic. I'm concerned about the house that's been in my family for over 100 years…They're just telling people everything they want to hear to vote yes.”
City officials say they hope to have the deal with Foxwoods and the payment numbers completed in a few weeks and a public vote in June.
If it passes, they expect a decision from the state gaming commission in November.
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