BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The state gambling commission has cleared the first of four companies seeking the sole license to build a slots parlor in Massachusetts to continue with its bid.

Mass Gaming & Entertainment, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, is eyeing potential locations in the town of Millbury after failing to reach an agreement with officials in Worcester.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said Thursday that MGE had passed a background check required by the panel and was qualified to proceed to the next phase of the application process.

“The time we’re taking maximizes the potential that we really can get this right, which is what it was all about,” said Stephen Crosby, chairman of Mass. Gaming.

But while the commission tries to get it right, things are going very wrong in the casino industry.

The latest numbers show Atlantic City’s casinos on pace for their worst year since 1991, with double-digit drops in revenue for many of the biggest operators.

The main reason is regional competition.

“All of a sudden, it’s surrounded by casinos in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. It is just a really unique case,” Crosby said.

The year-old casino in Oxford, Maine is doing well.

Twin River in Rhode Island just added table games to its arsenal of slots.

And while New Hampshire has yet to approve a proposed casino in Salem, it’s still a live option.

As industry expert Roger Gros told WBZ, earily this year, the clock is ticking.

“By the time Massachusetts gets in the ballgame, there’s going to be many more competitors around them, so the revenue that’s actually going to come into Massachusetts is going to be much smaller,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Mass. Gaming Commission doesn’t seem too worried.

“In the last few months, we’ve been having pressure to slow down,” Crosby said. “Finally, everybody else – the communities, the bidders – are getting into the guts of the work and because of the local control, this is a long, tough, arduous process.”

The expectation is for jobs.Eight to 10,000 construction jobs, 8,000 to 10,000 permanent jobs and for revenues, $3-500 million a year in revenues to the Commonwealth.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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