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Hard Rock casino proposed for western Mass.

November 1, 2011

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HOLYOKE, Mass.—Hard Rock International said Tuesday it is partnering with a local developer to build a proposed casino and hotel at a 100-acre site off Interstate 91.

The proposal was announced as lawmakers worked to finalize a bill that would authorize three resort-style casinos in Massachusetts, including one that would be located in the western part of the state.

Hard Rock said it had formed a strategic alliance with Paper City Development LLC to develop a casino at the Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke and predicted that if built, it would generate more than $100 million a year in tax revenue for Massachusetts.

"We are planning a state-of-the-art facility with a wide range of non-gaming amenities that will provide a world-class entertainment experience unique to the region," said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock, in a statement.

Paper City Development, which controls the country club, had previously said it wanted to pursue a casino for the site and announced in April that, if successful, it would voluntarily give back 2.5 percent of its net revenues to the city and neighboring communities.

"Hard Rock will benefit the local community and state by creating thousands of new permanent jobs, increasing out-of-state tourism, and improving area infrastructure," said Joseph Lashinger, Paper City's management partner.

Versions of the casino bill have been approved in the House and Senate, and a six-member conference committee has been appointed to iron out differences between the two bills.

Both measures would establish a gaming commission to review bids for casino licenses in the state.

Hard Rock, which operates 15 hotel-casinos around the world in addition to its music-themed cafes, is unlikely to be the only bidder for the sole western Massachusetts license.

The owners of the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut have proposed a gaming facility in the town of Palmer.