Springfield City Councilors, Casino Consultant Clash on Host Agreement Transparency

Springfield City Council members met publicly with the city’s hired casino consultants Tuesday night to discuss two casino proposals in the city. MGM Resorts and Penn National Gaming have each proposed casinos – but only one casino license can be awarded in western Massachusetts.

Council members questioned the city’s casino consultant Cezar Froelich on how some casino revenues would be paid to the city and the timeline of the city’s host community agreements. Froelich argued those agreements must remain private until they are voted on by the city council and brought to a city-wide referendum. He says releasing the agreements sooner would hurt Springfield’s chances of obtaining a casino license. Two other companies have proposed casinos in Palmer and West Springfield. Froelich says those companies would take advantage of Springfield’s host community agreements if they were released early.

“You’re giving up a competitive advantage for a transparency that you want to provide today, and I’m telling you you’re going to provide it to the public slightly later, and you’re going to maintain a competitive advantage not turning it over earlier.”

But Council president James Ferrera says he wants to see at least parts of the agreements released publicly during the negotiation process.

“We want it to be an open, fair, and transparent document. It should be a public document so that the individuals know exactly what the document is.”

Froelich and city officials say they want casino referendums to be voted on during the June 25th special senate election. That means host community agreements must be signed by casino developers, passed by the city council, and available to the public sixty days beforehand – on April 24th.