Mohegan's Etess says developers' flipflop won't affect tribe's plans for Palmer


A dispute between owners of the Palmer, Mass., property where Mohegan Sun hopes to develop a casino and an early investor in the project who's now linked with a competing proposal won't affect the Palmer plan, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's chief executive said Wednesday.

The Boston Globe reported Monday that the Northeast Group, which is leasing the Palmer site to the Mohegan authority, claims Peter Picknelly, chairman and chief executive of Peter Pan Bus Lines, remains legally bound to the Palmer project though he's now aligned with Penn National Gaming's plan to build an $807 million casino in Springfield.

"Their dispute doesn't have any direct impact on us," Mitchell Etess, the Mohegan authority's CEO, said of Northeast. "They're the landlord and we're the tenant. Obviously, we're very concerned about Mr. Picknelly's role (in Springfield) after his having committed very clearly and very publicly to Palmer through his investment with Northeast.

"It's very confusing."

Etess said he had not had contact with Northeast regarding the matter and didn't expect to initiate any.

"It's their business," he said.

The authority is in the process of finalizing its application for a state casino license, one of three the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to award. The deadline for the application and an accompanying $400,000 fee is Jan. 15. The Palmer plan is one of at least three expected to vie for the one license to be awarded for western Massachusetts. The other two, including Penn National's and one filed by MGM Resorts International, have been proposed for Springfield.

According to the Globe report, Picknelly informed Northeast last summer that he intended to sever his ties to the Palmer project. At about the same time, he emerged as Penn National's development partner.


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