A national casino hotel company announced Wednesday it has entered into a legal agreement to purchase land in Springfield, under the assumption that the Massachusetts casino bill will soon be signed by the governor.
Ameristar Casinos is a publicly traded company with eight casino hotel properties in several states, including Nevada, Indiana, and Mississippi. The company has agreed to purchase a 41-acre parcel off Interstate 291 for $16 million. That vacant site is the former home of the Westinghouse Electric manufacturing company.
Troy Stremming, spokesman for Ameristar, says his company is eager to bring a luxury hotel and casino resort to Western Massachusetts. Another casino developer, Penn National Gaming, had said it was eyeing Springfield as a possible site to put up a casino, but Ameristar swooped in.
"There aren't many new market casino opportunities left in the United States for our industry and it just so happens that the population base here is significantly underserved in Massachusetts. And at the same time, the legislation that was drafted is very fair with operators and very fair with the citizens of Massachusetts."
Stremming says Ameristar expects to close on the purchase in January. The purchase will likely happen before a local vote is held on the project. It's still not clear whether the vote to allow a casino in Springfield will take place in just the ward where the facility is proposed, or if all city residents will have a say.
Stremming says given Springfield's economy, he expects support for the project, which he says will bring more than 2 thousand permanent jobs to the city.
Current legislation would allow for only one casino in Western Massachusetts. A spokeswoman for the anti-casino group United to Stop Slots in Mass, says the pending casino bill is an example of the "influence of money in politics over prudent policy."