Mohegan Sun and Palmer sign host agreement - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Mohegan Sun and Palmer sign host agreement

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On Thursday morning, the town became the third Western Massachusetts community to sign a host agreement with a casino company.

"It is really a great feeling to have this completed," said Palmer Town Manager Charlie Blanchard.

After more than a year of negotiations, the town and Mohegan Sun reached a deal on the proposed $1 billion project.

"The biggest impact for the town of Palmer is we nearly double our tax base in a situation like this," said Town Councilor Paul Burns. "It's not very often that a community gets to have that kind of an opportunity."

That opportunity is the $15.2 million the casino will pay the town each year for the first five years. That number goes up by 1 to 2 percent annually beginning in year six.

Once the agreement is approved by the town council, the town will receive a payment of $200,000. It will be followed up by another $200,000 should Mohegan win the casino license early next year.

Mohegan's Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess said while his group may be the third to reach an agreement in Western Mass, behind MGM in Springfield and Hard Rock in West Springfield, they did not pay attention to the first two.

"The reality of this is what will the impact of this be on Palmer and how do we address those needs," Etess stated. "So, the folks in town do not have their lives impacted and we can then make it better."

Community groups in attendance at Thursday's signing agreed. They believe that the proposed casino resort can go a long way to revitalizing the town.

"A business of this size is going to replicate the jobs that we have lost over the years in the mills and factories," said Robert Young, spokesman for Palmer Businesses for a Palmer Casino. "But, it's not just about the town of Palmer. The town of Palmer's project is a regional project."

For the pro-casino groups, they feel it is up to them to get the word out to other residents.

"We will keep everyone abreast of information as we receive it," said Jennifer Baruffaldi, spokesperson for Citizens for Jobs and Growth in Palmer. "We'll have a link to the host agreement on our website."

Town council will likely vote on the agreement on Tuesday.

They will also be asked to set a date for residents to vote on the referendum.  Springfield voters passed the referendum with MGM in July. West Springfield voters will make their decision on Sept. 10. 

Mohegan said they will start working out deals with neighboring communities next week.

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