The Massachusetts Gaming Commission held a public hearing in Springfield Tuesday evening on MGM’s proposed casino. More than 300 people turned out to hear the updated plan from MGM officials, and to get their voices heard by the commission.
Despite voter approval last summer, longtime resident Karen Ford called the project the worst thing that could happen to the city, and criticized Mayor Domenic Sarno and other local officials for supporting it.
“Springfield, Massachusetts is absolutely not a place that would thrive or survive by having a casino in its location,” Ford said.
But Ray Caparelli said the casino would help revitalize Springfield’s once-bustling downtown that is now quiet.
“MGM has come along; they’ve got a great project,” he said. “There are people who don’t like the project, and that’s fine. They’re entitled to their opinions. But yet, I’ve not heard anybody tonight tell me an alternative to help the area, the region and the people of Springfield.”
Others called on the commission to force MGM to do more to deal with traffic, preserve historic buildings and help problem gamblers.
Gaming Commission chair Stephen Crosby said the detailed feedback is critical in deciding whether to award MGM a casino license
“We will take the information we get here along with 15,000 pages of application that we’ve been reviewing, in terms of economic development, finance, community mitigation, site and building design etc.,” Crosby said. “We will have public meetings streamed live on the web where each of the commissioners will report on their part of the evaluation, with consultant help. And then we’ll sit there in public and decide what do to.”
A decision is expected in May and MGM is the only remaining applicant for the casino license reserved for western Massachusetts. But the commission has the option of starting the process all over again.