MGM Springfield casino

A casino arms race is occurring across the Northeast.  States from New York to Maine are looking to expand gambling options for their residents and visitors.  Casino industry expert Clyde Barrow of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley sees continued escalation.

MGM Springfield

MGM has scheduled a groundbreaking two weeks from today to begin constructing an $800 million resort casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.

One of the biggest construction projects in a generation in Springfield will begin with the demolition of a former elementary school—the Zanetti school that was damaged by the 2011 tornado. By the end of the year, eighteen more buildings are to be torn down and other work done to prepare a 14.5 acre site for the construction of a parking garage, a hotel, and casino.

Triin Q's photostream Flickr

The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts is poised to approve a casino ethics ordinance, but the city’s mayor has been silent so far on the issue.

The Springfield City Council is expected to give final approval at its next regular meeting to an ordinance that would put restrictions on public officials obtaining jobs at the new MGM casino being built in the city.  Supporters say it is intended to foster public trust in the municipal decision making surrounding the casino project.

MGM Springfield

The recent snowstorms have wreaked havoc on work, school, and personal schedules. The city council in Springfield, Massachusetts is holding a special meeting later today. Three previously scheduled sessions were cancelled because of snow.          

Council business that was postponed by the snowstorms includes a vote on a casino ethics ordinance that would bar elected city officials – the councilors and the mayor -- from accepting jobs with MGM Springfield for three years after leaving the city’s employment.

WAMC

A substance abuse treatment center for jail inmates from throughout western Massachusetts is being forced from its longtime location for construction of the MGM Springfield casino.  The search is on for a new home for the program, but time and money are obstacles.

MGM Springfield

MGM is planning a spring groundbreaking for the $800 million resort casino the Las Vegas-based entertainment giant is building in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. Several important steps in the complex project will happen over the next few weeks.

Although construction cranes won’t appear in the sky for several months, workers and visitors in downtown Springfield will shortly notice changes as MGM prepares the 14.5 acre site for the project that promises to transform Springfield, economically and culturally, for decades to come.

MGM Springfield

The Springfield, Massachusetts city council is considering an ordinance that would put restrictions on public officials obtaining jobs at the new MGM casino being built in the city.

Under a proposed municipal ethics ordinance, the city’s elected officials—the mayor and 11 city councilors – would be barred for at least five years from obtaining a job at the MGM casino after leaving the city’s employment.  Non-elected officials who are considered “major policymakers” would face a two-year ban.

WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

Public officials in areas denied casinos have begun to raise their voices. This comes on the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo's letter to the state Gaming Commission, urging the panel to reopen bidding for a casino in the Southern Tier. New hopes have emerged for two failed projects.

WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas

Months of discussion about jobs, development and construction came to naught for several losing communities last week when just three casino projects got the green light from New York state’s gaming commission. But, communities and developers that lost casino bids are on the rebound.

Last week, the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board rejected 13 proposals in favor of projects in Sullivan, Seneca and Schenectady counties.

MGM Springfield

Now that MGM has won Massachusetts regulatory and voter approval to build a resort casino in downtown Springfield the Las Vegas-based entertainment giant has employment and local purchasing commitments to keep. 

Berkshire Theatre Group

There has been plenty of talk about how casinos in New York’s Capital Region and Springfield, Massachusetts could impact those communities. But what about the area sandwiched in between? While neither casino is up and running just yet, Berkshire performance venues are keeping an eye on the developments.

WAMC

After a crushing defeat at the polls last month, casino opponents in Massachusetts are talking about becoming watchdogs over the development of the new industry they fought to exclude from the state. Steve Abdow, who was a western Massachusetts organizer with Faith for Repeal and Repeal the Casino Deal, said he and other activists talked earlier this week about future plans.    Abdow spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.

MGM Springfield

Millions of dollars from MGM Resorts will start flowing soon to Springfield and other western Massachusetts communities.  MGM is obligated to make the payments years before the $800 million casino it is building in downtown Springfield opens.

Now that MGM Resorts has been awarded a casino license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission -- a formality that had been delayed for months by the ill-fated effort to repeal the casino law on Election Day — the company must honor development agreements with Springfield and surrounding communities.

WAMC

Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker, just three days removed from his close election victory, visited western Massachusetts today.  He met privately with the mayor of the region’s largest city, and also with a suburban mayor who had endorsed Baker’s candidacy.

The Republican governor-elect and the Democratic mayor of Springfield dismissed their political differences and stressed their mutual interests in economic development and finding innovative ways to improve the state’s public schools.

MGM Springfield

The introduction of Las Vegas-style gambling to Massachusetts will proceed at a more rapid pace now that a major hurdle has been cleared.  Voters soundly defeated a ballot question to repeal the 2011 casino law.  

   With the cloud of uncertainty caused by the repeal vote lifted, The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting in Boston Thursday voted unanimously to formally award licenses to build and operate full-scale destination casinos to MGM Resorts for the company’s Springfield project and to Wynn Resorts in greater Boston.  

WAMC

Massachusetts voters Tuesday soundly rejected a ban on Las Vegas-style gambling. The vote allows casino projects to move forward in Springfield and eastern Massachusetts.

         Voters by a lopsided 60-40 percent margin decided to keep the Massachusetts 2011 casino gambling law on the books after a casino industry-financed, multi-million dollar, tightly-focused campaign that highlighted the promise of thousands of jobs and revitalization in two economically depressed cities.

WAMC

The time for persuading people with stump speeches, debate performances and TV ads is over. Campaigns in Massachusetts are working today to motivate people to go out and vote.

       Democratic candidate for Massachusetts governor Martha Coakley spent Election Day in the state’s three largest cities, where she needs a heavy voter turnout if she is to win a tight race with Republican Charlie Baker.

MGM Springfield

Voters in Massachusetts one week from today will decide whether to launch the fledgling casino industry or pull the plug.  Question 3 on the ballot, if approved, would repeal the state’s 2011 casino law and stop projects authorized by state gambling industry regulators in Springfield, Greater Boston, and Plainville.

With just a week before Election Day, Holyoke City Councilor Anthony Soto stood with five of his fellow city councilors, and an abandoned paper mill as a backdrop, to urge a “no” vote on Question 3.

WAMC

A statewide campaign to fight repeal of the Massachusetts casino law had a formal kickoff in Springfield today.

The casino industry-funded Coalition to Protect Mass Jobs held its first official campaign event Tuesday in the downtown offices of MGM Springfield. About 100 local community leaders, business owners, and labor representatives gathered to hear brief speeches and see the first television ad of the campaign, which stars the city of Springfield.

  Springfield has been banking on casino gambling, but voters in November could overturn the law.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Tim Vercellotti, director of the Western New England University poll and professor of political science, tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that a grassroots repeal effort is gaining steam.

One note on this segment: after Alan’s conversation with Tim Vercellotti, the federal government informed Massachusetts that it would not need space to house the Central American immigrants.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and legislative leaders are betting voters don’t repeal the state’s casino law.   Casino revenue was included in the 2015 state budget, but the impact of the decision appears to be more political than financial.

Gov. Patrick does not see it as much of a gamble to speculate on $73 million in projected casino revenue in a budget that totals $ 36.5 billion. The casino cash may never come if voters repeal the state’s casino law in November.

WAMC

Anti-casino activists launched a statewide referendum campaign today in Springfield where they outlined plans for convincing voters to keep Las Vegas-style gambling from coming to Massachusetts.

MGM Springfield

The three-year old effort to bring Las Vegas-style gambling to Massachusetts was dealt a significant setback this week when the state’s highest court ruled that voters can decide in November if the casino law should be repealed.  The unanimous decision by the State Supreme Judicial Court supporting an effort by anti-casino activists came less than two weeks after MGM was assigned a license to build an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield.    WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with MGM Springfield president Mike Mathis about the status of the project and the plans t

WAMC

When the Massachusetts legislature voted three years ago to legalize casino gambling after decades of debate, it appeared the only fights left would be over where the casinos would be built. But now both sides on the charged issue are gearing up to win the hearts and minds of the state’s voters, who will decide in November if Las Vegas-style gambling will in fact have a home in Massachusetts.

MGM Springfield

When casinos were legalized in Massachusetts three years ago, the mayor of Springfield set off on a high-stakes bid to land a destination resort casino that could transform the city’s economically depressed downtown. Now, potentially within months of a groundbreaking for an $800 million casino, the project is in jeopardy. 

Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy says when he and Mayor Domenic Sarno first talked about the strategy for getting a casino built in the city, they told each other they would remain optimistic and prepared for whatever hurdles came along.

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled today that a question asking voters to repeal the state’s casino law can go on the November ballot.  It sets up what promises to be a hard-fought campaign to decide the fate of the fledgling gambling industry in Massachusetts.

WAMC

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has assigned the state’s first resort casino license to MGM.  The entertainment industry giant got the go-ahead from the industry regulators today to build an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield, but a cloud of uncertainty still hangs over the project.

       The unanimous vote by the five-member gaming commission was greeted with a standing ovation from more than 300 people who packed a ballroom inside the MassMutual Convention Center less than a block from where the casino would be built.

MGM Springfield

Massachusetts gaming industry regulators began a final review today of MGM’s proposed casino in Springfield.  It is expected to conclude Friday with a decision to award the state’s first resort casino license.

Massachusetts Gaming Commissioners gave marks of “sufficient” to “outstanding” as they reported publicly on their evaluation of MGM’s application for a gaming license to build an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield.

Massgaming.com

Gaming industry regulators in Massachusetts have announced a revised timetable for issuing resort casino licenses.  Delays are costing the state and municipal governments gaming revenue that budget writers had counted on receiving by now.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is on track to make a decision on June 13th to award the lone resort casino license in western Massachusetts.  The commission chairman says he will be part of the decision- making process.

Chairman Stephen Crosby presided over the commission’s public hearing in Springfield Wednesday, the first public meeting for the gaming regulators since Crosby removed himself last week from any further role in the casino licensing process in the greater Boston area.

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