Springfield MA Voters Approve MGM Casino Plan
In a public referendum held on Tuesday, voters in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved a plan to construct an MGM casino there.
Majority of voters ticked yes for the plan
Tuesday’s election saw a roughly 24 percent voter turnout in Springfield, which is the second-largest metropolitan area in the state of Massachusetts.
Fifty-eight percent of the voters who showed up to the polls were in favor of the plan, with twenty-four percent opposed. In total, 24,278 ballots were cast on Tuesday.
What was up for approval was the host agreement reached between MGM and the city of Springfield. Under the terms of the agreement, which had already been approved by Springfield’s city council prior to this week’s public referendum, the city will be paid $25 million annually by MGM. MGM plans to spend $800 million in the construction of the casino resort.
Company competing for one western Massachusetts gaming license
Massachusetts gaming regulators will be approving only one casino license for the western region of the state. Also vying for the lone license is Mohegan Sun, the operator of one of the country’s largest casinos, located in Uncasville, Connecticut. The company wants to build a property in the town of Palmer.
Hard Rock has also thrown its hat in the ring, with a proposal to develop a casino resort in West Springfield.
Bill Hornbuckle, president of MGM Springfield, remarked that the new MGM property would be perfectly located to compete with casinos in neighboring states. Competition for gambling dollars has continued to heat up in the northeast in recent years, with states across New England scrambling to expand land-based casino gambling.
“We are ideally positioned, particularly on the I-91 corridor, to reach down into Connecticut and pull some of those revenues and those tax dollars back up here. So instead of consistently tax dollars flowing in Connecticut–in terms of gaming revenues–we’re going to go get them and bring them back,” Hornbuckle said.
Issue now goes to Massachusetts regulators
Now that the citizens of Springfield have given their approval to the host agreement, the next step is for the MGM plan to be shown the green light by state gambling officials.
In the days and weeks leading up to the vote, confidence ran high amongst MGM officials as well as local backers of the casino plan that a victory would be handily won. Still, MGM’s CEO James Murren was in a celebratory mood after the company’s big win at the polls.
“Today is the dawn of a new era. Today, the people of Springfield and the people of MGM carry the same flag. We are taking this flag to Boston. We are taking this flag to the Commonwealth. We’re saying it’s no longer okay to turn away from Springfield,” Murren told reporters.
Thousands of jobs promised for the area
The Springfield area stands to benefit enormously if the MGM plan comes to fruition, both in terms of tax revenue as well as in job creation. MGM has said that the construction of the casino will produce some 2,000 temporary construction jobs with 3,000 permanent jobs to follow.
“Springfield deserves this opportunity. Springfield needs this opportunity. There is no community in Western Massachusetts that deserves this more,” Murren said yesterday.
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