SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

January 30, 2013

A winning idea?

Tourism, business leaders think slots parlor 'would be good for the North Shore'

DANVERS — The North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Tourism Summit takes place on Friday, and one of the topics not on its list of workshops is how a slots parlor at the Liberty Tree Mall might impact tourism.

Until now, when local business leaders and tourism officials have discussed a casino, they’ve been referring to a proposed resort at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. Last week, however, Danvers officials confirmed that they have been approached by a casino developer interested in siting a slots parlor with 1,250 machines at the mall.

Local tourism officials voted about a year and a half ago to support the proposal for a resort casino at Suffolk Downs, but they’ve not taken a stance on the Danvers proposal, which is still in the early stages.

Rinus Oosthoek, executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of this week’s seventh annual Tourism Summit, said he thinks a Danvers slots parlor “would be good for the North Shore.”

“I think it’s another attraction for the North Shore,” Oosthoek said. “It diversifies the offerings” in the region. Oosthoek said a slots parlor would attract a different clientele than a full-fledged casino, but that even a slots parlor could be themed to attract tourists.

“In a general sense,” he said, “if it diversifies the local tourism options. It helps.”

It could also create construction jobs, and jobs for those who work at the casino, he added.

Robert Lutts, chairman of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, also has a positive outlook.

“Generally, any new economic development in terms of building an activity or event is positive,” said Lutts, who is president and chief investment officer of Cabot Money Management in Salem.

Hotels are a positive because they bring new people and can stimulate a local economy, Lutts said. Casinos, on the other hand, have a slightly different impact.

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