Gaming commission denies MGM arbitration appeals - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Gaming commission denies MGM arbitration appeals

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Representatives from MGM Springfield, Longmeadow and West Springfield presented their cases in front of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Friday.

MGM was looking to appeal the arbitration rulings that were in favor of each of the town's host community agreements.

The casino said they are grateful for Friday's discussions, even if it did not go their way.

The commission said they needed to end the appeals to stay on track for awarding the Western Massachusetts casino license on Friday, June 13.

Twice this morning, the commission unanimously turned away MGM's appeal, once in favor of Longmeadow, the other in favor of West Springfield.

Earlier this week, despite a split arbitration panel, Longmeadow was awarded $850,000 up front from MGM, to be followed by 13 annual payments of $275,000.

"Longmeadow listened," said Brandon Moss, special council to the town. "Housing, schools, code enforcement, water, sewer, the commission's own consultants said they were not impacts, so we didn't put those in the Longmeadow agreement. We only focused on the two issues of traffic and public safety."

This past Monday, an arbitration panel unanimously voted in favor of West Springfield receiving $425,000 a year, to go along with $665,000 towards reconstruction of Memorial Avenue.

The casino had proposed nearly $300,000 less a year.

"Really, the primary differences are just the payment amounts and that's a factual determination that the arbitration panel unanimously made," said Jonathan Silverstein, a lawyer representing West Springfield.

Seeing that the commission was backing the arbitration process, the casino stressed the need to protect itself from providing a windfall to either town.

"If the commission is comfortable with that, subject to our ability to reopen, then MGM is willing to live with it," said Seth Stratton, a lawyer for the casino.

Prior to wrapping up their decisions, the commission said the arbitration panels did their job.

"The arbitrator did not see this as a fee, but saw it in the reasonable range of cost of impacts," said Stephen Crosby, chairman of the commission.

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis released a statement to CBS 3 Springfield on Friday afternoon, saying:

"We were grateful for today's discussion regarding the arbitrators' rulings. Although the awards were not adjusted as we had hoped, we very much appreciated the Massachusetts Gaming Commission's recognition that certain fees need to be tied to impacts, and these mandated surrounding community agreements qualify for future re-evaluation. The final stages of the licensing process are upon us, and we look forward to the commission's June 13 licensing determination."

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