Casino magnate eyes Massachusetts, meets with House leader

Amanda Smith

Fueling speculation about a possible casino in the Marlborough area, a Las Vegas casino mogul met privately with state Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi Wednesday.

Sheldon Adelson, who heads Las Vegas Sands Corp., could not confirm he met with DiMasi, saying he had several meetings on Wednesday. DiMasi's press representative David Guarino said the meeting did take place, but he could not discuss details.

Adelson's company owns three casinos in Las Vegas, including the Venetian, and has two properties in Macau. He owns a home in Newton and grew up in Dorchester, but said he has not purchased land or made specific plans for a casino in the Marlborough area.

"First the state has to decide whether or not it wants casinos," said Adelson.

"My experience from decades in business tells me that if you jump the gun too early, if you step off the mark, you sometimes get disqualified," Adelson added.

Adelson said as a Massachusetts resident, with friends and family here, he is interested in events that take place here. He said he will make decisions about developing a casino in the state if and when the state allows gambling and depending on the conditions at that time.

Although he could not provide details, Guarino said the meeting with DiMasi did relate to the future of casino gaming in the state. DiMasi has expressed resistance to expanded gaming in Massachusetts.

Marlborough state Rep. Stephen LeDuc said the fact that Adelson is reaching out to decision-makers indicates he has serious interest in building something in the state, whether in Marlborough or elsewhere. LeDuc added that he is open to hearing a plan should one emerge, but also wants those plans to be sensitive to the local community.

LeDuc said the abundance of hotels and Marlborough's location could make it an appealing site for a casino, though Marlborough City Council President Arthur Vigeant said he was unsure if the city has a parcel of land large enough to accommodate a casino.

Vigeant also said he met with City Solicitor Donald Rider a few weeks ago to begin planning an approval process to protect the city should a developer come forward with plans to build a casino. He plans to meet with Rider again in the coming weeks.

Mayor Nancy Stevens's spokeswoman Karen Kisty said the mayor's office received no word about the meeting Wednesday. State Sen.Pam Resor's office said Resor learned of the meeting from morning news reports.

In July Adelson met with state Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Dan O'Connell. At the time of that meeting, O'Connell's spokesperson Kofi Jones, Adelson cited the I-495 corridor as a possible location for a casino project.

Jones had no comment about Adelson's meeting with DiMasi.

Developers from Connecticut casino Mohegan Sun met with O'Connell and statesenators yesterday regarding a possible casino in Palmer. Last week, Middleborough residents approved a proposal to allow the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to build a casino in their town.