WAREHAM, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A South Shore developer unveiled plans Tuesday for a $300 million gaming, horse racing, and entertainment complex project in Wareham.
The project, known as Wareham Park, is being proposed by real estate development company Notos Group—and is spearheaded by Thomas O'Connell, an executive at Quincy's Marina Bay and the Granite Links golf club.
"We are proposing a state-of-the-art entertainment complex that will bring world-class thoroughbred racing to Massachusetts," O'Connell said. "Leveraging electronic gaming as a component piece allows us to provide a facility and an experience that will rank among the world's best, like Saratoga or Churchill Downs."
Notos and O'Connell say the project would create 1,000 jobs and generate over $50 million in state and local revenue.
It would be located off Glen Charlie road, near Route 25—but lawmakers would first have to allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the discretion to change the existing license designated for southeastern Massachusetts to allow for a slots parlor. O'Connell said the idea of bringing a full-fledged casino to the area may not work, but the license could be changed to allow for a smaller operation that would.
"There is a full category one destination resort casino license sitting on a desk in Boston, but that license may never be awarded because the market has changed," O'Connell said. "A full casino may not be viable in this market, and that leaves southeastern Mass out of the running for all the economic development opportunities, the jobs, and the tax revenue generation."
Some residents told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe they're against the idea. They say traffic is bad enough with the opening of a new marijuana dispensary, and adding a horse track and slots parlor to the mix would not be a good thing.
"It's already busy enough," said one man. "That would just add more traffic."
Another man said he doesn't want to see Wareham officials sell the town out by adding a gambling hub.
"It's getting a little big for its britches, it seems like it's all for sale," he said. "We got people travelling from all over for the Verilife pot shop, and we got enough trouble here."
Others were worried a casino would prey on low-income residents.
"It seems a poor-stricken, underdeveloped town; why would we want something like that?" one woman said. "There's so many other things they can invest in as far as community-wise. That's just not based on community."
Not everyone was against the idea. Tunnicliffe spoke to two residents who said a slots parlor would tie into the area's history—nearby Onset Village used to be home to the old Colonial Casino.
Yet another resident said the proposal would be a much-needed financial shot in the arm.
"We could use another way to attract people to the town, it'll help us financially," he said.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports