The official license won’t be granted for some time as there is still a chance that the 2011 Expanded Gaming Act, which invited casino companies into the Commonwealth to do business, could be repealed. So as the process continues, it still has one major hurdle – will the state Supreme Judicial Court decide a ballot question repealing the casino law is illegal, or will it appear on the ballot, giving voters a final chance to kill the law and repeal casino expansion in the Bay State. The agreement surrounding the approval of the license MGM will have to pay nearly $85 million in state licensing fee. However, MGM officials confirm that they will not be making the payment immediately due to the pending Sipreme Court Decision, since the $85 million is part of a non refundable fee that needs to be remitted within 30 days of receiving their license.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno thanked the commission Friday morning. He also had high praise for MGM, saying, ““MGM is a world class company. They have been very genuine and humble, and integrated their project with the mosaic of the history of this great city.”
MGM CEO Jim Murren also addressed the commission, he seemed not totally focused on the local needs, as the competition ahead. When Murren was asked just how MGM intends to compete with the two already open Connecticut casinos and the New York casinos being considered, he said that it will be relatively easy because of MGM’s standards. “We can out-entertain anyone in this industry, and certainly in Connecticut,” Murren said. “I feel very confident that given our plan and our location, we will not only bring the money back to Massachsuetts but we’ll get some of that Connecticut money up here.” Humble? Really? (A little “Steve-Wynnesque, if you ask me.)
MGM on Wednesday accepted six conditions placed on the license by the commission, all consistent with the emphasis on local jobs and community agreements:
- Make sure the parking garage and all of the Union Street facades jibe well with already existing structures in the neighborhood, as it does on the Bliss Street side of the site.
- Coordinate with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Trial Court of the Commonwealth and other interested parties to mitigate issues during the construction phase.
- Report to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission once a general contractor is chosen for the construction of its $800 million facility.
- Report to the gaming commission the general contractor’s comprehensive Affirmative Action hiring plan and provide the local MGM affirmative action plan for hiring.
- Report to the gaming commission on any negotiated leases with local and regional businesses regarding them renting space within the MGM entertainment complex.
- Report to the gaming commission on the number of Springfield employees which have been hired to make up the 35 percent pledge as outlined in the Host Community Agreement.
James Murren, CEO of MGM, said he was optimistic that the project would still go forward and that casino expansion in Massachusetts would continue. He said “I think the odds are very high. Not only would I bet on it. I have.”
So, “Welcome to New England, MGM.” Let’s hope the rising tide of casino repeal will recede into calmer waters – for Springfield’s sake.
That’s all for now.