Foxwoods to make pitch for Mass. casino on Monday

Handicappers looking to tweak the odds on Foxwoods' chances of winning a license to build a $1 billion casino in Milford, Mass., figure to be paying close attention Monday night when a Foxwoods partnership meets with the town's Board of Selectmen.

It's been eight weeks since the parties' first get-together, during which selectmen expressed doubts about the Foxwoods Massachusetts proposal. On Monday, they're expecting to get a much clearer picture of what the pro-ject entails and how the partnership plans to pull it off.

"I don't see it as make-or-break," William Buckley, the board's chairman, said Friday of the meeting. "It's an opportunity for the developers to provide details. There's no reason for us to draw a line in the sand."

But the clock is ticking.

Foxwoods Massachusetts, led by Scott Butera, the Foxwoods Resort Casino president and chief executive officer, must get selectmen's approval to negotiate a "host community agreement" with the town, which must be signed 60 days before a binding, townwide referendum on the project. All that, plus the filing of a final license application with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, would have to be completed by the end of the year.

"It's not a whole lot of time, but it's the time they've left themselves," Buckley said.

The proposal originated with developer David Nunes, now a Foxwoods partner, in 2008.

"They've been at this for four years now," Buckley said. "We've asked for more details and whatever they provide we're going to have to process through our department heads. For example, the police chief is going to have to digest the data they provide related to traffic. He's going to have to decide if it's enough or if he needs more."

Buckley said Foxwoods has to be clear about who its partners are, including the extent of involvement by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino. He said selectmen do not know which individuals' backgrounds the gaming commission is checking as part of the application process.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council's treasurer faces a trial on charges he embezzled from the tribe, as does his brother, a former council chairman.

"They must be able to discuss their finances in depth," Buckley said. "They've got to communicate why it is they've made commitments to creditors in the past and then had to restructure those commitments. ... They've got to tell us about employees, salaries, types of jobs and positions. I'm personally interested in what's involved in importing jobs and the people for those jobs. For example, of 3,000 (Foxwoods) dealers, some 800 are Mandarin Chinese with unique language requirements. How might that impact our schools?

"In the end," he said, "the community is taking all the risk; everybody else is playing with somebody else's money. It's the residents of the town who have skin in the game."

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