Two Casino Firms Meet Deadlines

Jan 4, 2013

Two high powered casino operators competing to develop projects in Springfield submitted detailed proposals to the city and filed initial applications for a casino license to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

The filings by MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming satisfy key deadlines as they vie with Mohegan Sun for the lone casino license state law authorizes in western Massachusetts. MGM and Penn met a Thursday deadline set by Springfield city officials to provide extensive information about their projects including  designs, financing, economic benefits, and the impact on traffic. The two companies delivered boxes containing hundreds of pages to city hall.

Springfield Chief Development Officer, Kevin Kennedy said the voluminous material will be carefully reviewed by city officials, appointed advisors and hired consultants.

Kennedy said  the proposals will be made public after confidential business information is removed in keeping with Mayor Domenic Sarno’s pledge to have a transparent competition for casino development rights.

MGM and Penn have proposed projects each valued at roughly $800 million in different parts of downtown Springfield.  Both proposals include a casino with slot machines and table games, hundreds of hotel rooms, restaurants, stores and other amenities. Officials with both companies have talked about urban renewal efforts that will go beyond the footprint of the casinos.

Casino operators that want a crack at a license in Massachusetts have until January 15  to file an application that includes a $400,000 non refundable fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.  The commission reported that it has received Phase 1 applications from MGM and Penn. Background investigations can begin to determine if the companies qualify to hold a casino license in Massachusetts.

Published reports said the top executive with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority repeated assurances that his company will file an application and pay the $400,000 fee to the state by the January 15th deadline.  Mohegan has pursued a project in Palmer for several years, but some local officials recently questioned the commitment.    Jennifer Baruffaldi, a spokesperson for two pro-casino groups in Palmer said she is not concerned.

The 500 member Greater Springfield Chamber Of Commerce issued a position paper this week in which it repeated the organizations endorsement of a casino in the city, but also raised concerns. It calls for a plan to purchase locally and help build the capacity of small businesses that might not currently be able to meet the casino’s volume demands for goods and services. It  also addresses local hiring and downtown development.

Chamber president Jeffrey Ciuffreda said the issues should be taken up as part of the casino licensing process.

On Monday, a consortium of the state’s community colleges and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will announce an agreement on training people for casino employment.  A report to the commission last year projected there would be ten thousand jobs in the state’s casino industry.