Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and MGM Resorts International officially signed a host community agreement for a proposed casino Wednesday. But the proposal still has several hurdles ahead.
Mayor Sarno and MGM Springfield president Bill Hornbuckle inked the deal in front of dozens of city leaders and supporters. MGM still needs to win support of the City Council, Springfield voters, and ultimately the state gaming commission. If it does, it will compete for customers with Connecticut’s casinos, and up to two more casinos and one slots parlor that can be licensed in other regions of Massachusetts. Hornbuckle says while any new development is a risk for his company, he says the single license in the western part of the state will help.
“We’re comforted by, within seventy miles, just about a million odd people that we think we can call our customers,” says Hornbuckle. “And so, yeah, we’re afraid, we’re always afraid. But we’re going to go do this in every way we’ve described, and we think it will be a winner.”
Only one casino license can be awarded in western Massachusetts, and two other casinos have been proposed in the region – one by Mohegan Sun in Palmer, and one by Hard Rock Casinos in West Springfield. Hornbuckle says getting the referendum passed by a wide majority will send the gaming commission a message.
“We want them to be able to say, ‘Springfield is the right spot’ with confidence, because the vast majority of the electorate there not only understood the program, but wanted the program. So I think it’s critical we get that vote as high as we can.”
According to Mayor Sarno, the City Council will start discussing the host community agreement this week. Hornbuckle say the goal is to hold a referendum in mid-July.