Most Active Stories
- Dr. Paul Booth, DePaul University – Cultural Meaning of Doctor Who
- Complaints Voiced At Forum About VA Claims Backlog
- Where Did That Fried Chicken Stereotype Come From?
- Dr. Frank Elgar, McGill University – Psychological Health and Family Meals
- NY AG Breaks Cigarette Trafficking Ring, Hints Terror Ties
Mon January 23, 2012
Mayors Hold A Lot Of Cards In Casino Talks
By Paul Tuthill
Holyoke, MA – The new law in Massachusetts that legalized casino gambling puts a lot a power in the hands of local officials to decide if their communities will become home to a resort casino. The mayor of one western Massachusetts city has already exercised that power as we hear from WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.
The mayor of Holyoke Massachusetts, Alex Morse, is unambiguous when it comes to his position on a proposed casino development.
Shortly after his inauguration as Holyoke's new mayor earlier this month, Morse met with casino developers and gave them the cold shoulder. In a pre-inauguration interview, Morse made clear he considered a casino proposal a distraction in his efforts to revitalize Holyoke.
Hard Rock International and a local group called Paper City Development have proposed to build a resort casino on a golf course adjacent to Interstate 91. But if Morse refuses to negotiate a host community agreement, something that is required by the state's casino law, then the developers have little recourse but to look elsewhere. Anthony Cignolli, one of the principals in Paper City Development said they are not officially giving up on Holyoke, but they are looking for other sites to a build a casino.
The state's new gambling law authorizes one resort casino license for western Massachusetts. Competition for it is increasing, with three developers, in addition to Hard Rock, proposing specific locations for casinos in Springfield, Palmer, and most recently the small town of Brimfield.
The mayor of Chicopee, Michael Bissonnette, says casino developers have been looking at three different locations in his city.
Bissonnette advocates what he calls a regional approach to casino development. He is also calling for the state's gaming commission to provide potential host communities with funds to hire experts to analyze the offers from casino developers.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who was once an opponent of an urban casino, says he's willing to listen to proposals. Ameristar has proposed a casino on a former industrial site on out the outskirst of the city. Springfield's Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy says that's not the optimal location.
Officails in the town of Palmer have longed advocated for a casino, and have championed a plan by Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming to build on site just off an interchange with the MassPike. Members of Palmer's board of selectmen have said they'd like to hold a required referendum on the host community agreement as early as June.
Selectmen in the town of Brimfield have just begun to digest the recent proposal by MGM Resorts international to build a casino in the woods in a remote part of the town.
The chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has said it is unlikely a casino license would been issued until sometime in 2013.