MGM Suitable to Operate in Western Massachusetts

At a hearing held earlier this week, investigators enlisted by the state of Massachusetts to perform a routine background check advised state gaming regulators that MGM Resorts is fit to move forward with its plan to build a new land-based casino in Springfield, the second-largest metropolitan area in the state.

The investigation, which is a crucial step toward gaining a much-coveted casino license in Massachusetts, lasted about ten months, according to the Boston Globe.

MGM has put forth a proposal to construct an $800 million casino resort in Springfield, which is in the western part of Massachusetts.

Clearance comes with a couple of caveats

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is going to be awarding permits for land-based casinos in Western Massachusetts and the Boston metropolitan area in early 2014. It will also be issuing a license for one slots-only gambling parlor.

The race to gain licensing has indeed been a tough one, with casinos falling out of contention at every step of the way.

Though MGM’s development proposal was approved by local Springfield voters in a public referendum earlier this year, the project would not have been able to gain final approval without being found adequate after the completion of the background investigation.

The final deadline in Massachusetts looms; all applications must be complete by the end of this month.

The recommendation comes with a few asterisks, namely:

1.) That MGM make disclosures with regard to its business practices in the Asian gaming mecca of Macau, specifically concerning a common practice in Macau that involves sharing a cut of gaming proceeds with so-called “gaming promoters.”

2.) That MGM offer further information as to its business relationship with a prior board member, Terry Christensen, who was found guilty of charges related to conspiracy and wire tapping back in 2006.

Same background check tripped up Caesars

Earlier this fall, tongues wagged after Caesars Entertainment withdrew its own Massachusetts application after the company was warned that it was likely to be declared unsuitable to operate a casino in the Bay State.

At issue was a Nevada redevelopment project that saw Caesars teaming up with a tony New York hotel, the Gansevoort.

Caesars was planning to reimagine the old Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall on the Las Vegas Strip as a western outpost of the posh Meatpacking District Hotel, a plan that was quickly tossed aside once Massachusetts investigators uncovered possible organized crime ties to one of Gansevoort’s investors, German-born Arik Kislin. Kislin is said to have connections to Russian mob figures.

Both Kislin and Caesars criticized Massachusetts gaming regulators for being overly strict, and indeed the field of competitors has been effectively thinned in Massachusetts both by stringent licensing requirements as well as losses at the polls.

In fact, MGM is the only applicant left that qualifies for consideration for the western Massachusetts resort casino license.

Wynn hearing set for next week

Back in Boston, a hearing is set for next week, December 16, with regard to the suitability of Wynn Resorts, which has designed a $1.2 billion property that would be situated in Everett, Massachusetts.

The property, which Wynn has promised will be the finest hotel in the city of Boston, will be located on a polluted piece of land fronting the Mystic River that was formerly the home of a Monsanto Chemical processing plant. For its part, Wynn has warned that in the absence of approval of the plan, it is unlikely that the parcel will be cleaned up anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Suffolk Downs, the racetrack that was partnered with Caesars until Caesars beat its hasty retreat from Boston, is still working to reconfigure its proposal.

After losing Caesars, Suffolk Downs paired up with Mohegan Sun. The two companies are working to gain approval for a casino that would be built entirely in the city of Revere, which approved the casino plan in a public vote while neighboring East Boston residents shot it down.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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