- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) - A proposed $650 million resort casino for the Brockton Fairgrounds cleared a crucial step Tuesday as city residents approved the proposal in a special election.

The Enterprise newspaper reported that the binding referendum passed by 143 votes, 7,163 to 7,020. About 32 percent of the city’s 44,010 registered voters took part, it said.

Voter approval was necessary for the plan to move forward in the competition for the state’s third and final resort casino license.

The Brockton casino is competing with projects in New Bedford and Somerset for the license, which is reserved for the state’s southeast region.

Plans call for a red brick casino complex housing a 225-room hotel, an event center and a number of restaurants on about 45 acres.

Supporters had touted the 1,500 permanent casino jobs and at least $10 million a year in revenue the project would bring to Brockton; opponents criticized the project’s location next to Brockton High School.

Mass Gaming and Entertainment, the project’s developer, had poured more than $1 million into a campaign to win voter approval for the casino. A local opposition group had spent just over $3,000.

The company is a subsidiary of Rush Street Gaming, a Chicago-based company that operates casinos in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

A final decision on the final resort casino license is not expected from the state Gaming Commission until the fall.

New Bedford is set to hold a referendum on a proposed $650 million Foxwoods casino on a former power plant on June 23.

Developers of a proposed casino in Somerset have asked the gaming commission for more time to develop their application, a request they’ll consider at a meeting Thursday.

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