Proposed Foxboro Casino Evokes Strong Opposition From Local Residents


Protestors gather at Ahern Middle School to oppose the Foxboro Casino

Andrea Lee

Protestors gather at Ahern Middle School to oppose the Foxboro Casino. (Photo/Andrea Lee)

For Walpole residents, gambling has never been close to home, since the nearest casinos are in Connecticut.  And for some, not having the traditional Las Vegas vice around has been a relief; but a mere two weeks ago, this relief quickly dissipated. What has been causing a strong controversy in Walpole, Foxboro, and the neighboring towns is the possibility of having a casino built near Gillette Stadium.

On Friday, December 2, word leaked out to the residents of Foxboro and nearby towns that Patriots Owner Robert Kraft and Las Vegas Casino developer Steve Wynn were planning a meeting to discuss the proposed project:  a $1 billion casino near Gillette Stadium, along with a hotel, retail, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. Wynn also said that the Foxboro Casino would be smaller in scale than the ones he owned in Las Vegas and China. Only 24 hours after hearing the news, Foxboro residents quickly organized a protest on Saturday, October 3 with over 150 people there for the cause. But the protestors did not stop there; they quickly began forming an online alliance with Facebook and Twitter, and continued to plan more rallies and meetings to promote opposition for the casino.

The concern about the potential building is not just from Foxboro: other towns, especially Walpole, which has houses in South Walpole very close to where the casino would be built, are getting involved. Having a casino in their backyard is just not an ideal image to those who would not only have to deal with the noise, but the traffic as well.  With more than 1,000 signatures on a petition opposing the casino, a good amount of them have come from Walpole residents.

The arguments against building the casino are numerous, and being broadcast with signs, stickers, news broadcasts, and online groups. Studies have shown that crime rates dramatically increase five to seven years after a casino opens and that provides a significant concern for Foxboro and the surrounding towns. Not only have robberies increased by more than 100 per cent, but larceny, auto theft, burglaries, and murders have increased a large amount too. But that’s not the only concern of residents:  many are convinced that the quality of the town disintegrate, especially with traffic and property values. And with the Patriots nearby, residents argue that the roads would be congested and there would be an issue with public safety. They have clearly stated that they are just against the casino being built on a structural form near their town and not the online community of gambling games where people can enjoy live dealer blackjack and other games.

For those who support the building of the casino, their main argument is about the beneficial effect of the casino on the local economy. Wynn and Kraft believe that the casino would provide thousands of jobs, and the supporters agree that the casino could be just what the town needs to help the economy. Still, the amount of opposition is overwhelming compared to the supporters, and that will play a major part in the actual decision, since Kraft and Wynn will not do the project without support from the community.

Opponents gathered at the Ahern Middle School in Foxboro on Thursday, December 8, for a rally outside followed by a meeting in the school. Numerous concerned residents came despite the chilly weather to hold up signs and provide a backdrop for the Channel 5 and Channel 6 News Crews that showed up to get interviews and information. The meeting inside the middle school was the first public meeting since Kraft and Wynn announced that they were going to work together, and it attracted more than 500 people.  Most of the people there demanded that officials listen and not allow the casino to be built, and the board then voted.  Their persistence will definitely continue until they hear the final ‘no’ that they are aiming for with more meetings and communication. In reaction to the local backlash, Wynn and Kraft recently announced that on January 10, they will have present their proposal to Foxboro selectmen in a public meeting.

The Foxboro Casino conflict has not only been affecting the residents of Foxboro, but now many in Walpole are getting involved. And the plan of the building is not definite, since the residents and the NFL need to approve it; but those supporting and those opposing will both continue to have rallies and meetings until Kraft and Wynn decide their next move in the proposition. While the supporters want to boost the economy, protestors insist that the negative effects outweigh the potential positives.