MGM Massachusetts Asks for a Break

Artist Rendering of MGM Springfield

Artist Rendering of MGM Springfield

MGM wanted to be the first to get in the license application. They had to secure the west region license before everyone any other region was decided. MGM had to be ahead of all other plans.

Now, with efforts to repeal Massachusetts’ casino law underway, MGM Resorts International has asked state regulators to delay the collection of casino fees from the company even as it prepares to become the state’s first licensed casino operator.

MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said on Thursday that the Las Vegas-based company risks losing about $200 million in fees, deposits and other payments if a referendum to repeal the state’s 2011 casino law is put before voters in November and passes. “No corporation should be expected to subject itself to such risk,” Mathias said in a letter to the state Gaming Commission. To be honest, I agree.

The “Repeal the Casino Deal,” the group pushing for the anti-casino referendum, said MGM’s request signals that the “landscape for casinos has shifted” in Massachusetts. But, according to a new survey by the Western New England University Polling Institute, 59% of Massachusetts residents support casinos in the state, and 42% said they supported a casino in their community.

So, MGM is suggesting that the commission hold off on going forward with the process — which would, among other things, trigger the payment of an $85 million state licensing fee — until the repeal effort plays out.

The commission awarded its first license, for a slot machine parlor, in February, choosing a Penn National Gaming project in Plainville. Penn paid a $25 million state fee for the slot license. Penn executives have said the company would campaign against repeal if the issue goes to the ballot and expressed confidence the voters would support the industry.

The commission has already pushed the award of the Greater Boston resort casino license deeper into the summer, because of a dispute over the Boston’s claims that it should have more say over two casino proposals on its border.

As Massachusetts continues to take its time playing out its hand, more time is available for New Hampshire and Rhode Island to make future plans.

That’s all for now.