EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 22, 2013

Slot parlor proposed in Salisbury

Selectmen will hear presentation Monday

By Angeljean Chiaramida
Staff Writer

---- — SALISBURY — The topic of gambling in Salisbury will be resurrected Monday night when a representative from a Maryland company meets with the Board of Selectmen to discuss the possibility of bringing a slot machine parlor to town.

According to Selectman Fred Knowles, he’s spoken with Jeffrey Snyder, of Baltimore’s Cordish Company, about the potential of Salisbury becoming the location for the one-and-only state-approved slot machine venue, allowed by the passage of Massachusetts’ casino gambling legislation in 2011.

Three casinos are permitted by state law, but only one slot machine parlor.

Knowles believes Cordish approached local businessman Bruce Arakelian about placing a prospective development on currently unused portions of his land on Route 110 (Elm Street).

Presently the site of the Sylvan Street Grille and Vision Max theater complex, the proposed slot parlor would be built behind those existing businesses, Knowles said.

It was at the Selectmen meeting on June 10 when Arakelian requested board members read the notes taken by town planning director Lisa Pearson, when she met with the Cordish representative.

At that meeting, Town Manager Neil Harrington said he had also spoken with the individual involved, telling him to put a detailed plan in writing for selectmen to review.

Selectman Henry Richenburg told Arakelian that the board also needed a written prospectus for the topic to move forward.

As of yesterday, neither Harrington nor Knowles had received a written proposal from Cordish, but the agenda for their meeting on Monday lists a presentation by the company, and that information is expected to be supplied in time for the meeting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Colchester Room at Town Hall.

Under state law, locating a slot parlor in a community is not an easy task, Knowles said, and there are a few companies, in addition to Cordish, seeking out communities as partners for such a venue.

State law requires that the first thing that must be done is for a community to agree to host the slot machine parlor, Knowles said, negotiating and signing a host agreement with the company involved. Raynham has already signed such an agreement with a company, Knowles said, and there are others interested.

After the host agreement is signed, a referendum must be conducted in which voters get their say on whether or not they want slot machine gaming in their community, Knowles said. The agreement must be in place at least 60 days prior to the referendum, he added.

Should Salisbury’s selectmen sign on, and voters approve the slot machine host agreement, Salisbury’s proposal, along with proposals from other communities, will be submitted to the state gaming commission. The commission decides which proposal to choose.

According to its website, the Cordish companies date back to 1910 and have had four generations of “privately-held, family ownership” and entertainment districts and casinos is one of their commercial focuses.

More than a decade ago, townspeople fought through the issues of bringing gambling to Salisbury Beach. A national casino company had options to purchase a number of pieces of property at the beach. However, at the time casinos were not legal in the state.

The battle, which became heated at times, ended when voters turned down gambling at the beach at the polls. Zoning at the beach district reflects that vote, and gambling establishments are now prohibited at Salisbury Beach.