The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Friday morning approved MGM Springfield's $800 million resort and casino proposal, which designated them as state's first casino licensee.
MGM has asked for a delay in officially awarding the casino license while the Supreme Judicial Court decides whether or not to allow a question on the ballot in the November election that would repeal Massachusetts' Expanded Gaming Act.
The Las Vegas casino giant asked for the delay because once they are officially awarded the license they have 30 days to pay an $85 million licensing fee, which they do not want to lose if the 2011 casino law is repealed.
Anti-casino groups have continued to push for a casino repeal to be placed on the November ballot. The award won't become official until the Supreme Judicial Court rules against that ballot repeal question, or if that repeal is shot down at the polls in November. The last day for a question to be added to the November ballot is July 8.
If the casino law is not repealed then construction would begin this summer. MGM Springfield would likely open in early 2017, according MGM spokesperson Vanessa Krawczyk.
The five-person gaming commission held hearings in Springfield Tuesday and Wednesday to present their findings on five different aspects of MGM Resorts International's proposal including the project's finances, building and site design, potential for economic development and local impacts on the community.
The commission met back in Boston Thursday with plans to hold more discussions, but none were needed as the members praised the plan. MGM officials agreed Thursday to the following six provisions laid out by the panel:
MGM's $800 million proposal calls for 55 residences and a 25-story 250-room hotel. The plan includes 125,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,000 slot machines, and a total of 3,700 gaming positions. 75 gaming tables, a poker room and high limit VIP gambling area are also included in the plan.
MGM has proposed a casino, hotel, movie theater and 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on 14.5 acres between State and Union streets and East Columbus Avenue and Main Street. The casino will be located between downtown Springfield and the city's South End neighborhood.
MGM Springfield will bring 3,000 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs to downtown Springfield.
MGM's proposal was the only one to survive a two-year competition for the western Massachusetts casino license. MGM Resorts International owns more than a dozen Las Vegas casinos, including the Bellagio, the Mirage, and Mandalay Bay. MGM owns resort casinos in Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois, and in China.
The Expanded Gaming Act, which was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on November 22, 2011, was intended to generate new revenue for Massachusetts, create new jobs, and contribute to the economic growth of the local economy.
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