Two western Massachusetts communities that went through an arbitration process to obtain payments intended to offset the impacts of a casino in Springfield appear to have done better financially than municipalities that accepted offers from casino giant MGM Resorts.
Longmeadow and West Springfield went to arbitration with MGM after failing to reach negotiated settlements with the casino company by an end-of- March deadline established by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. By then MGM had reached surrounding community agreements with six other municipalities.
The fate of casino gambling in Massachusetts may hinge on a case that was argued before the justices of the state’s highest court in Boston this morning.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard an hour of oral arguments Monday morning on whether a question should be allowed on the November ballot asking voters if the 2011 law that opened the state to Las Vegas-style gambling should be repealed.
After a two-year battle that left MGM Resorts International as the last competitor standing to build a resort casino in western Massachusetts, the entertainment giant now wants to delay the ultimate prize—a Massachusetts casino license. A leading anti-casino advocate says it’s a sign MGM is nervous about the prospect Massachusetts voters could repeal casino gambling in a statewide referendum.
The effort to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts,which began almost two-and-a-half years ago, has hit some speed bumps along the way. Gambling opponents believe they still have a chance to shut down the fledgling industry in Massachusetts.
Supporters and opponents of MGM’s $800 million casino project in Springfield had a final chance last night to sound-off in front of Massachusetts gaming industry regulators. The state gaming commission held a final public hearing in Springfield as it prepares to award the lone casino license in western Massachusetts where MGM Springfield is the only applicant.
As Massachusetts moves closer to issuing the state’s first casino licenses a potential referendum battle is looming.
Anti-casino leaders are busy developing a campaign strategy to persuade Massachusetts voters to repeal the state’s 2011 gaming law that authorized casino gambling. Steve Abdow, a member of the leadership team of the Repeal the Casino Deal ballot initiative said the message will be pretty straightforward.
" It's really a matter of education. If people understand the negative impact and that the casinos won't deliver what is promised."
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission heard today from three western Massachusetts municipalities that want to be designated as surrounding communities to a casino development. A surrounding community is entitled to negotiate with a casino operator for compensation for traffic and other impacts.
The lengthy process to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts has entered a final phase. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will spend the next few months carefully evaluating projects before coming to a decision on issuing licenses. Supporters of the MGM casino project in Springfield are already anticipating a groundbreaking.
MGM Resorts International is the only applicant for the lone casino license in western Massachusetts, but Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby says the five-member commission is not obligated to award the license to MGM.
The lone applicant for the western Massachusetts casino license pitched the project to state gaming industry regulators today. The 90-minute public presentation marked the beginning of an evaluation process that is expected to culminate with the awarding of a casino license in the spring.
MGM Resorts International CEO James Murran told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that even though all competitors have fallen by the wayside, MGM’s Springfield project is the right choice to be awarded a lucrative casino license.