Mass. Gaming Commission turns down Northampton, Hampden as - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM


Gaming commission approves Longmeadow, denies Northampton, Hampden as MGM communities

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The state's gambling commission turned down Northampton and Hampden's requests to be designated as a "surrounding community" to the resort casino proposed in Springfield.

Longmeadow was approved based on the anticipated increase in traffic nearby the intersection of Route 5 and Interstate 91. Longmeadow and MGM now have 30 days to reach an agreement. If an agreement is not reached an arbitration process will begin.

Representatives from the Big E, an impacted live entertainment venue, requested that MGM not be allowed to have shows at the Mass Mutual Center from 30 prior to their fair in September, to 30 days after the fair ends. Members of the gaming commission pointed out that MGM was not building their own venue, and that it intended to use a state owned facility. A decision has not yet been made. 

"We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with officials from Longmeadow and the Big E to come up with agreements that will serve all parties, and allow us to avoid the arbitration process," said MGM Springfield incoming President Michael Mathis.

MGM also finalized a seasonal sponsorship and cross-marketing agreement with the Majestic Theater in West Springfield.  This extends MGM's commitment to work with existing entertainment facilities throughout the region to continue to grow the area's tourism economy. In light of the agreement reached late last week, the Majestic Theater withdrew its petition before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for Impacted Live Entertainment Venue status.

Had Northampton - which is about 20 miles from Springfield - been granted surrounding community status, it would have been eligible for funding to offset any negative impacts of the casino development.

But in unanimously rejecting Northampton's bid on Tuesday, the five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission said the potential benefits to the city of increased tourism would likely outweigh any losses.

MGM Resorts International has proposed an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield and is the only remaining applicant for the sole casino license available in western Massachusetts.

The panel is also considering surrounding community petitions from Longmeadow.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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