Mohegan Sun Massachusetts cleared a major hurdle on Thursday, as the gaming commission said the group is allowed to continue the application process for its $1 billion Palmer casino plan.
Thursday's suitability hearing was the first one held by the commission that looked at a group wanting to build a resort casino in the Bay State.
Before the commission's unanimous approval, they heard statements from Mohegan and its business partner, Brigade Capital Management.
Prior to the approval, commissioners had questions for the company that would help fund the proposed project.
Commissioner Enrique Zuniga asked Brigade's representatives if they would be able to bring in more money if it was needed throughout the life of the project.
"We'd certainly be ready, willing and able absolutely, to commit more capital in an ongoing basis," said Patrick Kelly, co-founder of Brigade.
Mohegan, which branched out into commercial gaming nearly a decade after opening their tribal gaming facility in Connecticut, said it was not a difficult move.
"We were the first casino to open in Pennsylvania under their new regulation," said Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess. "We worked really closely with the gaming board on how to do things. It was a really smooth transition and I think that a lot of it had to do with the discipline we had in Connecticut."
The commission said they received letters of concern regarding Thursday's hearing, saying it happened too quickly. Chairman Stephen Crosby stated there is still time for those concerns to be addressed.
"The suitability process that we are going through now culminates in a snapshot in time, but the process doesn't stop," Crosby stated. "We will continue to consider suitability to and through the final review of your final application."
Palmer residents will get their chance to vote on the casino Nov. 5.
Should Mohegan win that vote, their phase two application is due by the end of the year.
The casino would then be required to hold two hearings: one in the host community, the other in one of the surrounding communities.
MGM, which is proposing an $800 million casino resort in Springfield, will have their suitability hearing later this fall.
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