BOSTON (WWLP) - The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has denied applications by the City of Chicopee and two groups that want to build a casino in Holyoke.
During their weekly meeting, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has denied all four requests for waivers to extend the casino search process.
Earlier this week, Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette had written a letter to the gaming commission asking for more time for final applications and fees to be submitted, saying that there has been interest in three potential casino sites in the city.
The Gaming Commission had said that Tuesday's casino application deadline was a hard and fast deadline, and they're not backing down from enforcing it.
Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said that Chicopee's request wasn't concrete enough.
"There is no proposal there, it's not even close, it's not even as if they said 'we have a proposal. It's right here, here's all the background information, we just need another week, we've been working on this.' This was, it was a Hail Mary pass. And we're not prepared to slow down the process for a Hail Mary pass," Crosby said.
Still, despite the Gaming Commission's decision, it might not be the end for a possible Chicopee casino. Under the gaming law, companies that submitted proposals still have time to switch sites. Speaking to 22News Investigative Reporter Laura Hutchinson in Washington Thursday, Bissonnette said that he still is interested in seeing a developer go to the site at the Cabotville Industrial Park in downtown Chicopee.
"I remain intrigued by the Cabotville site, and I remain available to have a serious discussion with any qualified developer or operator that wants to take a hard look at the site," Bissonnette said.
Meanwhile, a petition filed by a lawyer working for Western Massachusetts Development Company, formerly Paper City Development, also asked for an extension to file an application. They had hoped to build a casino in Holyoke, where Mayor Alex Morse objects to the construction of one.
A second Holyoke developer, Good Samaritan, was also denied requests for a waiver. A Good Samaritan supporter who tried to speak up during the Commission's meeting said his company wasn't given a fair shot at an extension.
"It was very unfair, it doesn't give us an opportunity to reject or oppose what's said here," said Charles Petitti, President of Holyoke-Nonprofit Casino.
Seanfan Trust, which did not specify plans on a casino site, was also denied an extension. The Gaming Commission determined that all four requests would not advance the public interest and would ultimately delay the casino licensing process.
"When you look at delaying a vote or delaying consideration or delaying a proposal for another 6-7 months and add another 6-month investigative window on top of that. That's a full ‘nother year we're putting off," said Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner and former Springfield City Councilor Bruce Stebbins.
All bets are in and final for the 11 casino developers who have submitted complete casino applications. The Commission will now begin the process of vetting each developer over the next 3 to 6 months.