The more than $4 million in annual payments — plus other incentives — Penn National has promised Tewksbury has to be awfully attractive. Having football giant Doug Flutie sign on to open one of his restaurants in the complex only adds to the appeal. As a 320-seat, two-screen, dine-in movie theater was added to the plans this week, more attractions are bound to follow. Who could blame Tewksbury officials for seriously considering rolling out the welcome mat for such a project?
The same can’t be said for the residents of Andover, especially those who live at that edge of town. One would be hard-pressed to argue that the life they’ve grown accustomed to won’t change if a casino is built literally in their backyards.
A lot is at stake next week when Tewksbury residents at a special Town Meeting consider a rezoning proposal necessary for the casino to advance in their community. It’s only the first approval of several Penn National must gain before it can set up shop in Tewksbury. But it’s a key one.
If it was up to Andover, Penn National wouldn’t stand a chance. But there’s a reason Penn pinned its hopes on Tewksbury, not Andover. The gaming company has something to offer Tewksbury that the town couldn’t otherwise get. Despite any perceived negatives, we can imagine it’s a tough offer for Tewksbury to turn its back on. And we’d be hard-pressed to wager a bet on the ultimate outcome.