There’s a big test on Monday for MGM’s proposal to build a casino in downtown Springfield. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds a hearing to discuss the company’s background check.
LIVE VIDEO: Massachusetts Gaming Commission
To determine whether a casino applicant is “suitable,” the commission’s staff looks at the company’s finances, along with its “integrity, honesty, good character and reputation.”
MGM has faced questions before about an investor in its Macau resort. Asked whether he expects that to be a big deal at the hearing, Mike Mathis of MGM had little to say.
“Given the fact that the hearing is right around the corner, I’m not at liberty to go into any of the details about what may or may not happen,” Mathis said Friday.
But Mathis said the company has been transparent with the gaming commission throughout its investigation.
“We feel very good about our prospects of being found suitable, but we always have,” he said.
Gaming commissioners are not expected to vote at Monday’s public hearing. They will deliberate in private, with an announcement likely in the next few days.
If MGM is found not suitable, Western Massachusetts will be without a casino applicant just three weeks before a critical deadline. Voters in West Springfield and Palmer rejected competing proposals earlier this year.
The administration of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is publicly optimistic, pointing out that MGM already went through a local set of background checks and applications last year. That process led to the city choosing to negotiate only with MGM, over several other interested casino companies.
City Solicitor Ed Pikula said Springfield’s process works in MGM’s favor.
“I think a lot of the – sort of – dirt has come out already, Pikula said. “And where other communities did not have a competitive process, the [dirt] would not come up until there’s a vetting by the gaming commission.”
Local voters approved MGM’s proposal in July.
Meanwhile, MGM says it’s struck “surrounding community” deals with two communities in Western Massachusetts. Gaming regulators want the company to come to agreements with towns near its proposed casino in Springfield. MGM is supposed to pay for impacts like increased traffic and public safety costs.
Ludlow and Agawam have signed on, according to MGM’s Mathis. He’s still talking to other towns. If no deal can be reached, the process will move to arbitration.
“We’re working really hard to reach out – and have been – to all of our abutting communities to reach voluntary surrounding community agreements,” Mathis said.
MGM is negotiating only with the seven communities immediately surrounding Springfield. Other communities who feel they’ll be impacted negatively by a casino can appeal to the state gaming commission.
Henry Epp contributed reporting.