Casinos approved in Mass, MGM moves forward with $800 million de - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Casinos approved in Mass, MGM moves forward with $800 million development

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A rendering of MGM Springfield's $800 million proposal for the city's South End neighborhood. (MGM) A rendering of MGM Springfield's $800 million proposal for the city's South End neighborhood. (MGM)
MGM has proposed a theater, ice skating rink and more than 50 residences along Main Street. (MGM) MGM has proposed a theater, ice skating rink and more than 50 residences along Main Street. (MGM)
A shopping center and numerous restaurants were included in MGM's plan. (MGM) A shopping center and numerous restaurants were included in MGM's plan. (MGM)
A rendering of Wynn Resorts' $1.6 billion proposal for Everett. A rendering of Wynn Resorts' $1.6 billion proposal for Everett.
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) - The majority of voters across the Commonwealth voted against repealing the state's 2011 casino gaming law, which will allow licensed casinos to operate in Springfield and Everett as well as a slots parlor in Plainville.

At a an MGM watch party at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, MGM Resorts International President and Chief Marketing Officer Bill Hornbuckle announced that a trailer would be on site and a crew would be collecting dirt samples on Wednesday morning.

“We will build you something that you are proud of. We will build you something that will last forever. And we will build you something that we can all enjoy, and engage and entertain and ultimately inspire the Commonwealth and beyond,” Hornbeck said at the watch party.

For two decades, going back to 1994, people have been trying to bring resort casino gambling to Massachusetts. In 2002, amendments were filed to reignite the debate and in 2011, a casino gaming law was signed.

That's when Springfield began to focus on building an urban casino plan. At one point, several companies were vying for a license in the city and even more companies were looking at other properties in surrounding towns. For the Commonwealth's third largest city, it came down to two proposals: Penn National in the north end and MGM's $800 million proposal for the city's south end.

The mayor's office selected MGM as the chosen developer and sent the proposal before voters in July of 2013.

With the passage of MGM's plan, many voters thought the casino was a done deal, however it then needed to be officially passed by the state's Gaming Commission, which came in June. However, anti-casino activists were able to collect enough signatures to solidify their effort with a ballot proposal to repeal the law.

In September, Attorney General Martha Coakley said that would be unconstitutional, but in June, the state's Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, concluding the ballot question was indeed legal. It was then added to the ballot for the Nov. 4 election.

The first element of MGM Springfield's $800 million proposal calls for 55 residences along Main Street and a 250-room hotel, 50 percent of which will be reserved for casino guests, near State Street and East Columbus Avenue. The second element of the plan will include a farmer's market, an ice skating rink and a revitalization of Pynchon Park along the Connecticut River bank.

The third element calls for an upscale cinema, numerous restaurants and a bowling facility while the fourth element, along East Columbus Avenue, will consist of the central heating system for the resort and a multi-story parking garage. A second story entertainment plaza with shops and restaurants is also included in the plan.

Wynn Resorts plans to develop a $1.6 billion resort and casino featuring a 27-story hotel tower.

Construction has already begun on the $225 million slots parlor in Plainville and is expected to be complete in June.

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