After Springfield Casino Vote, Process Continues On in Three Communities

Now that it has approval from voters, Springfield’s casino bid is a step–or more–ahead of it its competitors in West Springfield and Palmer. The three communities are trying to secure western Massachusetts’ lone casino license.  

Palmer is the only community of the three not to have an agreement with a casino operator. The town and Mohegan Sun continue to negotiate a deal for a billion-dollar resort casino near the Massachusetts Turnpike. Mitchell Etess is the CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. He says they are hoping to have an agreement by the end of the month . Etess says there is a reason why it’s taking longer in Palmer than it did in  Springfield or West Springfield. 

“We were very, very thorough in providing a lot of information, a lot of outside studies and consultants to the town of of Palmer and I’m not quite sure the rigor and detail and studies were made in some of the other jurisdictions.” 

Any deal between Palmer and Mohegan Sun would still need approval from the town’s voters. That’s the next step in West Springfield, which signed an agreement with Hard Rock Gaming last week. A special election is likely in September. With Springfield’s voters having approved MGM’s plans for a downtown casino,  the company has to complete a second, more detailed application with the State Gaming Commission.  MGM President Bill Hornbuckle says they must now turn their attention to communities surrounding Springfield.
 
“We have six or seven or eight surrounding communities that we’ll now sit down with and do a deal with. Basically, much like we did a host city agreement with Springfield, we owe those same surrounding communities an understanding.”
 
Those agreements, covering areas such as traffic mitigation and other affects of a casino, must be completed before the Gaming Commission issues a license.