Expanded Palmer Casino Bid: More Questions Than Answers

A newly expanded resort casino project proposed for Palmer, Massachusetts appears to be raising more questions than answers. At a community forum in Palmer Monday night, Mohegan Sun officials unveiled plans to add $175 million in “ancillary non-gaming amenities” to a $600 million project, as well as a new logo and website. But they were not ready to provide more details. That concerns many residents, even casino supporters like Town Councilor Paul Burns. He says he would have preferred casino officials to be more forthcoming about those items and how Mohegan Sun plans to address traffic.
“They’re going to have to resolve it. Nobody wants to see an issue where traffic is backed up on (Rt.) 32 or on the Pike for hours.  That’s simply not going to work for anybody.”
Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, says he understands residents want more information about the project. But he says he’s not interested in sharing specifics now, citing competition with other developers –  MGM Resorts, Penn National Gaming and Hard Rock International – which also hope to secure western Massachusetts’ sole casino license.
“We have to ask for patience from the local community in getting their details. But what we really want is to win the license, and what they really want is to win the license. So, at the end of the day, we hope they’ll see that and be able to be patient with us as we provide more information at a slower pace than they are kind of looking for.”
Both Ettes and Burns agree those details will be provided as the process continues toward negotiating a host community agreement and a voter referendum. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is still devising regulations governing both.