Saying they hope to alleviate concerns addressed by the panel overseeing gambling in Massachusetts, Springfield officials have revised their timetable for selecting one or more preferred developers for a proposed casino in the city. At a public hearing in Springfield last week, members of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission said the city’s selection process was moving too quickly, even before the Commission had time to complete its own selection criteria. But in a letter to the Commission, Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s Chief Development Officer, says the city has agreed, among other things, to put off a vote on a casino until after the Commission completes its suitability investigations of applicants. Kennedy says the compromise should meet the objectives of both the city and the Gaming Commission.
“It’s a massive economic development project and the siting of it and the effect on Springfield was critical to us here in Springfield. Also the fact that we had a tornado and we’re ready to go was very important to us. On the Gaming Commission’s side, it was critical to them that the financial stability and the integrity of the applicant and the operators was important to them, and they needed to pre-qualify the applicants. So what we did is we both recognized what was important to both of us and came to a reasonable conclusion.”
Kennedy says the city will also require potential developers to pay a $400,000 application fee to the Gaming Commission. At today’s (Tuesday) public hearing, Commission members expressed satisfaction with Springfield’s revised timetable, calling it a step in the right direction. Meanwhile a ruling from the State Ethics Commission is expected in the next few days regarding potential conflicts-of-interest with respect to Springfield’s casino consultant.