The process for three / four casino sites in Massachusetts continues, although to some, at a snail’s pace. The winner of a lone casino license in Western Massachusetts will be determined on merit to the company that can best deliver on its promises.
Below is part of an article by Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column which appears Sundays in the Las Vegas Review Journal. He blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/stutz. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.
“A month ago, Penn National and MGM Resorts spent a combined $90 million and were on opposite sides of what might have been the most expensive and venomous casino expansion campaign ever seen in Maryland. What MGM and Penn need to avoid is another Maryland, where Question 7 passed by a 52 percent to 48 percent vote. MGM Resorts, which supported the gaming expansion measure, is expected to be awarded a license to build a casino in suburban Maryland. Penn National opposed the measure because the company believed it should be awarded the gaming license. Also, a new casino in Maryland would take customers from the company’s West Virginia casino. Did MGM cross the line? Inundating the Springfield airwaves with millions of dollars in ads, mailing controversial documents to residents and questioning a company’s financial acumen or intentions won’t be tolerated. In fact, Springfield leaders reportedly told officials from both MGM and Penn to play nice.
But for the moment, the focus is now on MGM Resorts and Penn National.
Now, they are facing off in Western Massachusetts in what is the most heavily sought after license among the state’s three potential gaming regions. Western Massachusetts drew six prospects. Both MGM and Penn have made inroads in Springfield. MGM promises to refurbish a city playground near its casino site and to use the gaming facility to bring additional business to two municipal golf courses. MGM Resorts and Penn National are focused on Springfield, which bills itself as a cultural center. MGM Resorts is planning an $800 million casino on 10 to 15 acres at the city’s south side. Penn National wants to build an $807 million casino on the city’s north end. Also on the table are separate proposals from two local developers in the town of Holyoke and a pitch by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, operators of the Mohegan Sun Casino, which has a site in Palmer.
In the other areas of the state, Caesars Entertainment Corp. – in partnership with the Suffolk Downs Raceway – seemingly has a lock on the Boston-area license, although a late entry of Wynn Resorts Ltd. could muddy the waters. And, in the southeast, the license appears headed to a Massachusetts Indian tribe, though the process could reopen if the tribe can’t get it’s financing in order.
Hundreds of Springfield residents are expected to pack a public meeting to hear from two companies seeking to build casinos in the western Massachusetts city. MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming Inc. were scheduled to make presentations and take questions at the meeting on Tuesday night.
Mayor Domenic Sarno is expected to decide sometime early next year whether to negotiate a host community agreement with one or both of the remaining developers.”
So the Bay State battles for casinos has begun. The expected completion is sometime around 2016. I guess we’ll have plenty of news until then. I’ll try to keep you posted we journey through. That’s all for now.