MA Gaming Commission Proposes Regional Impact Studies

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission made new commitments this week to communities adjacent to potential casino sites. The commission proposed a partnership with regional planning agencies to help study regional impacts of casinos.

If a casino comes to your town, chances are, it’s not just your town that will feel it. Environmental issues, traffic, and jobs could all impact cities and towns surrounding the community hosting the casino. And under the 2011 expanded gambling law, those cities and towns can ask casino companies for funds to study impacts before they occur. 

But now, to streamline that process, the gaming commission has enlisted regional planning agencies, like the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, as a sort of middle-man for groups of communities to analyze impacts together.

“Regional planning agencies could much more easily provide technical assistance and advisory services in evaluating positive and negative impacts.”

That’s John Ziemba, ombudsman for the gaming commission. He says neither communities nor casino applicants are required to participate, though three regional planning authorities have helped shape the proposed service. It comes as the commission reviews initial applications from eleven casino companies. Ziemba says the commission anticipates awarding up to three casino licenses, including one in western Massachusetts, by February 26th, 2014. He says the commission plans to issue its single slots parlor license in early December this year.