SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- In late August, MGM Springfield opened bringing more than 100,000 new faces to the city each and every week.

Before it opened, many thought the casino's presence in downtown would only bring more trouble, but Western Mass News discovered that's not the case.

"We haven't seen anything that's been unexpected," said Ryan Walsh, spokesperson for Springfield Police.

Walsh told Western Mass News you can put the rumors to bed as MGM Springfield's presence is not bringing more serious crime to downtown.

"It hasn't been as bad as people thought. There have been no OUI or prostitution arrests in that vicinity that I'm talking about, a quarter mile from the casino down from Taylor to Morris. When you talk about stereotyping the old school casino's you just don't see that," Walsh added.

He said instead, it's been mostly minor offenses.

"From the end of August there were issues with car break-ins by Boland Way, and the downtown area. Various issues of windows getting smashed. On September 21, the metro unit arrested a person responsible. Caught him red handed breaking into cars with various equipment. We have not seen any similar instances since then," Walsh noted.

To avoid falling victim to these petty crimes, Walsh recommends parking in the casino's garage.

Outside of these crimes, there's only been one major incident at the resort.

On September 9, police said a man inside the casino was viciously beaten by Springfield resident Devon Williams, who according to investigators, was basically playing the "knockout game" around the city. Williams remains behind bars.

Walsh said that's not something to pin on MGM.

"That was definitely an unfortunate assault. It started at a gas station where he did something similar, then at a Subway, then made his way to downtown Springfield. It's something that could have happened anywhere," Walsh explained.

Police said there are a number reasons as to why out of the ordinary criminal incidents have been non-existent since MGM opened its doors.

There are cameras everywhere. There's a gaming enforcement unit that's on the property of MGM. That consists of State Police and Springfield Police officers working together along with MGM security and surveillance teams, dealing with all the issues that happen on the property," said Walsh.

"On the outside, it's the Springfield Police metro unit. Just about 40 officers and supervisors that deal with the entire metro section," Walsh continued.

Those outside officers spend much of their time on patrol or in kiosks during peak hours.

People that have lived in Springfield all their lives told Western Mass News that they've noticed the increased security.

"I think they're more present now. I think people will take a second thought of causing any type of crime," said Springfield resident Lanarshia Bell.

MGM released a statement regarding their successful start that reads in part:

"We are very pleased with our operations at every level in the first two months. Our professional security force, 24-hour patrols, state-of-the-art surveillance systems, and K9 units stand ready to address any situation as they arise."

- MGM President & COO Michael Mathis

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is doing studies on MGM Springfield as well.

They have taken baseline data regarding incidents of crime, and will revisit the casino this coming January to see if those numbers have changed.

Police said that as of now they're not expecting anything to from that to be tied into MGM.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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