MGM Casino Plan for Springfield Massachusetts to go to a Vote This Week
Tuesday voters in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, will head to the polls to decide whether or not they want MGM to build a land-based casino in their town.
Going into the vote, polls have shown that 55 percent of the city’s eligible voters are in favor of the plan, while 8 percent are undecided and 35 percent are not in favor of the project moving forward.
Protests were held over the weekend despite widespread support
This weekend the city saw protesters come out to voice their dissatisfaction with MGM’s plan to construct a new casino resort in Springfield, which is the second-largest metropolitan area in the state of Massachusetts. At issue are concerns frequently heard when debates over casino expansion begin to heat up, such as worries over problem gambling, crime and traffic increases, and other quality of life issues.
“I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I can gamble with the best of them, but to put a casino in the middle of our downtown is ludicrous. If they want to fix this city, it’s to stop selling it out, stop outsourcing it. Give incentives to policemen and teachers, who will move back into this community and help to build up this community,” said Linda Cueves, a local Springfield resident who would prefer the town remain casino-free.
MGM plan has backing of local citizens’ group
And while the plan has its opposition, there are many who believe that what MGM has to offer the city far outstrips the potential downsides to siting a casino in Springfield.
Earlier this month, a local citizens’ group called the New North Citizens’ Council came out in favor of MGM’s plan, which would bring $25 million in revenue to the city annually under the terms of a host agreement that has already won approval by the Springfield City Council. Previously, the organization had lent its support to a casino plan put forward by Penn National, however the mayor of Springfield, Domenic J. Sarno, preferred the MGM proposal.
“MGM Springfield conducted their presentation, heard our concerns, and returned to participate in discussions with us that addressed employment; fair market rents; educational development opportunities; as well as social justice issues that will impact everyone in the City of Springfield. We will focus on getting the word to the residents to come out on July 16th and vote yes for MGM Springfield,” said New North’s president, José A. Gonzales, in a statement he made in early July.
One casino license to be issued for western Massachusetts
If MGM is successful after Tuesday’s public referendum, the company will then be permitted to apply for a gaming license from Massachusetts regulators. There will be only one casino license issued for the western Massachusetts region, with another hotly-contested license up for grabs in the Boston metropolitan area.
Last month, a proposal for a Wynn casino resort that would be located in Everett, Massachusetts, was similarly put to a public vote. The Wynn Company emerged victorious and now awaits approval from the state’s casino regulators. If Wynn’s plan gets the go ahead, the company has said it will construct what it promises to be the finest hotel in the city of Boston, while also vowing to clean up a polluted parcel of land along the Mystic River that once was home to a Monsanto chemical facility. The property would be similar to a design employed at the Wynn Resort in the Asian gaming mecca of Macau; a comparable design has also been produced for a proposed Wynn property in the state of Pennsylvania.
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