Four companies vying for a single casino license in western Massachusetts are negotiating agreements with host communities in time for voter referendums later this year. Meantime many community groups are stepping up with endorsements. One such organization weighed in this week, but with some reservations about the gambling industry.
The NAACP of Greater Springfield announced its support this week for the MGM Resorts plan for a casino in Springfields’ South End. It’s far from the first organization to do so. Several neighborhood councils and two local unions have previously endorsed MGM. And according to MGM’s website, the Springfield Puerto Rican Cultural Center endorsed the company last week. Reverend Talbert Swan, President of the regional NAACP, says while his organization supportS MGM’s plan, the group hasn’t declared support for casino gambling overall.
“However since the writing is on the wall that a casino will be coming to western Massachusetts, we would prefer to see MGM’s plan implemented as opposed to the other plans.”
Three other casinos proposed in the region are: Penn National Gaming in Springfield’s North End, Hard Rock Casinos in West Springfield, and Mohegan Sun in Palmer. Swan says the NAACP considered all of the proposals, but says MGM has the strongest history in working with people of color. But he says he would rather see other forms of economic development come to the city.
“I don’t think that a casino is going to be a saving force for the region, it will provide some level of economic development, but there are other ways we can do that.”
Springfield is working to complete agreements with one or both of the companies proposing casinos in the city in time for a city-wide referendum on June 25th. The state gaming commission won’t award casino licenses until February 2014.