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A casino for Foxboro?

Curt Nickisch Dec 20, 2011

Jeremy Hobson: The cities and towns of eastern Massachusetts are fighting over which one of them should be home to a new casino and all of the jobs that come with it. The state recently legalized casinos, and developers want to build one next to Gillette Stadium in the town of Foxboro — that’s where the New England Patriots play football.

But as Curt Nickisch reports from WBUR in Boston, many Foxboro residents are playing defense.

Curt Nickish: Any given Sunday, Patriots fans swarm the Boston suburb of Foxboro to cheer on Tom Brady. Now the owner of Patriots, Robert Kraft, wants to give people another reason to come: a billion-dollar resort casino.

Robert Kraft: Here we have an opportunity in this community to create 10,000 new jobs.

And bring in $10 million a year in taxes. Kraft is teaming up with Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn. But so far the respected NFL owner is finding it’s easier to win three Super Bowls than it is to win over area residents like Larry Kerr.

Larry Kerr: I’m a big casino player.

Kerr even goes once a week to nearby casinos in Connecticut. But he doesn’t want Kraft to open one next door to the stadium and Kraft’s outdoor shopping mall called Patriot Place.

Kerr: I think it’s ridiculous putting one up here, the traffic’s bad enough now! He’s got the shopping plaza, he’s got the team. Does a good job with ’em. I’m a big Pats fan, too. But enough’s enough.

Joe Hale: How worse could it get than a Patriots game?

Standing along the lone highway that runs past Gillette Stadium, Joe Hale admits traffic backs up for hours on game days. But he says cars on the move are a sign of a local economy on the move.

Hale: Motor vehicle traffic going by your location, somebody’s bound to stop and buy.

Nadine Wehbi can attest to that. She’s selling lottery tickets inside a convenience store along the highway.

Nadine Wehbi: Listen guys, I’m giving winners. Except for you!

Wehbi says the store goes crazy on game days. A casino would boost business all week long. Casino fans like her and casino opponents get to jaw about this for months. And it’s not just Monday morning quarterbacking, because before any casino can go up, the town gets to vote.

I’m Curt Nickish, for Marketplace.

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