Casino Expansion Project Enters County Planning Process; Addition Considered Likely Home For Table Games

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BERLIN — The Casino at Ocean Downs is planning a major addition to the facility on Route 589. Exactly what the planned 35,475-square-foot space will be used for has not been confirmed, however.

The site plan passed through the Worcester County Technical Review Committee this week on its way to the Planning Commission. The addition will be built on the north side of the present casino.

“Basically, if you’re facing the building looking at the building now, it’s the vacant parking lot area on the left-hand side,” said Jennifer Burke, a planner for the county.

Besides the size of the proposed addition, details on its usage are scant.

“I honestly don’t know the details,” said Hugh Cropper, the attorney representing Ocean Downs at the technical review. Cropper was only able to say that the addition would be “a continuation of the casino usage.”

There has been long-standing speculation that the casino will look to add table games in the near future, something Joe Cavilla, general manager, confirmed was under consideration when he met with the county’s Local Development Council (LDC) in late-spring.

“Table games are being seriously considered is the way I would put it at this point,” he said at the time.

At the LDC meeting, Cavilla reported the casino would not remove video lottery machines to make way for table games. The new expansion would mean plenty of room for the games. However, the casino has not responded to requests for information as of Thursday afternoon.

Though the technical review was short, county representatives passed on some information for consideration moving forward. Bob Mitchell, director for Environmental Programs, reminded John Salm, the engineer behind the expansion, that natural gas is being added to the area around the casino and could benefit the addition.

“We are doing the natural gas conversion. We’ve already done some industrial facilities on the Route 113 corridor,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell asked Salm about how the addition might impact the restroom situation for harness racing spectators. Right now, adults can enter the casino to use the facilities but minors are, legally, not allowed in and have to use portables. Salm promised to pass on Mitchell’s questions to the casino.

The next step for the site plan will be review by the Planning Commission, likely early next month. More information on the intended use should become available then. How it could impact traffic on Route 589, for example, will be tied directly to how the space will be used and considered by the commission.

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