Casino operators face questions from Springfield city council - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Casino operators face questions from Springfield city council

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The two casino operators competing to build in Springfield presented their traffic and entertainment plans before city councilors and the casino site committee Tuesday night.

For months, both MGM and Penn National have talked about how they will enhance the local economy and revitalize Springfield.

But at Tuesday night's meeting, as city councilors asked questions, each of the operators highlighted their differences.

City councilors and the city's casino site committee spent nearly three hours poring over details of both proposals and asking detailed questions.

"Making sure it's a full, transparent process going forward," said City Council President James Ferrera.

In their presentation, MGM said they'll hire 35 percent of their workforce from the local area through events like job fairs.

They are estimating 8 million visitors to the site a year, and less than 40 percent of their revenue comes from gaming.

"The difference is, who's going to be able to claw themselves into Connecticut and create the kind of programming and resource to bring people back into Western Mass and ultimately benefit Springfield, Western Mass and the Commonwealth overall," said President of MGM Springfield Bill Hornbuckle.

Meantime, Penn National estimates they'll hire 90 percent of their workforce from the surrounding area.

They estimate seeing 4 million visitors based on their research, and more than 80 percent of their revenue comes from gaming.

"We're going to spend in excess of $80 million of our money in other projects outside of our footprint, in Union Station, Paramount Theater, the relocation of The Republican printing presses," said President and COO of Penn National Gaming Tim Wilmott.

City councilors were satisfied with questions answered but say there will be more to come.

"We'll have further questions so we'll have to have further meetings. This process should not be rushed and we should not act in haste and we need to ensure that it's one done in a full transparent, public format," Ferrera said.

Both of the companies sat down with city leaders today to kick off negotiations for the community host agreement.

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