Plainridge Park Casino

A worker walks on the roof the of Plainridge Park Casino, which is scheduled to open this week.

PLAINVILLE - Everyone knows that when Plainridge Park Casino opens officially Wednesday, it will ring in the era of casino gambling in Massachusetts.

But, will it also bring benefits in the form of economic development to an area thirsty for jobs and additional tax revenue?

Eric Schippers is betting it will.

"We've seen in other jurisdictions where we've invested in a casino that it's created growth in businesses like restaurants and hotels," said Schippers, vice president of government affairs for Plainridge parent Penn National Gaming. "Real estate values have gone up. Wherever we've gone, it's been a real shot in the arm for the local economy."

Schippers said Penn National has also sought to spread the benefits of additional customer traffic and consumer dollars throughout the area by signing cross promotional agreements with local businesses and attractions like Wrentham Village Premium Outlets and Patriot Place.

Other backers of the 100,000-square-foot slot parlor also see dollar signs - from additional tax revenues and fees to a potential catalyst for a building boom along Route 1.

Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes said revenues to the town are estimated at a minimum of $4.3 million per year for the first five years of operation. And, that doesn't include meals taxes from the venue's restaurants, which could reach $100,000 annually.

But Fernandes says other businesses likely will be attracted to locate in the area to share in customers the casino presumably would bring.

Jack Lank, president of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce, also foresees a "ripple effect" as restaurants and retail stores seek to capitalize on additional consumer traffic.

But Clyde Barrow, a former University of Massachusetts professor who extensively studied gaming in the Northeast, isn't so bullish.

Barrow said the casino likely will provide a boost to local business because of the 500 or so employees who will be working there, but he doesn't see a big spillover of economic benefits from spending by casino patrons elsewhere in the community.

"You will see a little spending on gasoline and fast food as casino patrons come and go from the casino, but that's about it," he said.

There's no question that the casino will bring additional economic activity to the area. According to a study performed for the town of Plainville by Cummings Associates, Plainridge is forecast to take in $175.4 million in its first year.

The same study predicted that the number could jump by an additional $25 million or so the following year. However, Cummings says the take likely will fall somewhat as more casinos begin to open across the state.

Plainridge's slots and video table games are expected to attract about 6,000 people each day.

The same study, however, also pointed to a possible increase in demand for police and fire services, as well as social impacts like an increase in problem gambling.

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