MGM Springfield Ready to Receive First License In Mass as Public Opinion Seems to Be Turning

Artist rendering of MGM in Springfield

Artist rendering of MGM in Springfield

A proposed $800 million casino complex in Springfield, Massachusetts, by MGM Resorts International (MGM) is expected to receive the first of three casino licenses that will be granted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as early as Friday, June 13th?

Superstitious? The Massachusetts gaming is starting on Friday the 13th – but then again, gamblers and the gaming industry have never been known for superstitions before……

However, it seems the public’s opinion is softening on the need for casinos in Massachusetts, or maybe turning against.  If that’s the case, MGM might just want this license ASAP.

The Boston Herald’s Joe Battenfeld, wrote recently about a Suffolk University/Herald poll that was just released and shows a startling reversal of public opinion on casino gambling.  Previously,  public support for casino gambling in Massachusetts has continued to be for casino expansion, while the gap between pro and anti sentiment has closed.  Basically, the poll shows the “approve of casinos” numbers declined and the “disapprove” numbers increased both dramatically, over the course of a few months.

“The shift is good news for gambling opponents but dicey for the companies that have invested in locating casinos here,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “While gambling opponents await a Supreme Judicial Court decision on whether they can present a casino-repeal referendum in November, the public appears to be shifting to their point of view.”

The shift in popular opinion could be significant for casinos, who have spent millions of dollars on the licensing process, if a question reaches the ballot in November to repeal the state’s casino gambling law.  A group called Repeal the Casino Deal gathered enough signatures to get a question on the ballot asking voters to repeal the gambling law.

Carole Brennan, a spokeswoman for MGM Springfield, attributed the shift to the long licensing process and predicted that it would not last. “A long licensing process may have resulted in casino fatigue for some residents of the Commonwealth,” Brennan said. “But we are optimistic that MGM Springfield will be designated the Western Mass licensee soon and that will show voters that thousands of new jobs and strong economic opportunities are real outcomes, not just slogans.”   Brennan said she is confident that once the licensing process is complete, the  “downtown renaissance” brought to Springfield by the casino “will build momentum.”

Another thread in the long line of complications is the large amounts of money spent already by MGM, Mohegan Sun, and Wynn – as well as those companies not involved in the process anymore but still coughing up the initial license fees.  Based on requests from MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission recommended the reimbursement of casino application fees if voters in the state overturn the casino law this November. An anti-casino group gathered enough signatures to place a repeal of the law on the ballot, but casino developers are continuing plans to build casinos in the state. Whether that would include the other companies is yet to be seen.  But as long as the anti-casino groups build their case to be on the ballot, and continue to change public opinion, I think things could get pretty messy in the fall if Friday the 13th does not become the “lucky” date for MGM and Springfield.


That’s all for now.