MGM granted first Massachusetts casino licence

By Brad Allen
Operator MGM Resorts International has been awarded the first casino licence in the state of Massachusetts.

The Las Vegas-based gambling giant has successfully submitted plans to build an $800m casino, hotel, shopping and entertainment complex in Springfield, MA.

MGM will pay Springfield $15m up front and $25m annually.

The casino group has been granted a temporary reprieve on the $85m state licensing fee, pending a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

MGM will only pay the fee if the state law allowing casinos is kept intact.

MGM president Michael Mathis said the fee delay was very important in getting the deal done.

The project is being described by company spokespeople and city officials as an important economic boost to the struggling downtown area.

"We don't want to build an island someplace, we don't want to build a self-contained environment" said MGM chairman Jim Murren. "What we are trying to do after listening to a lot of folks is to help revitalise".

MGM said it will need 2,600 temporary construction workers to build the casino and another 3,000 permanent workers to staff it.

The group has pledged that 35% of these will be from Springfield – which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby called the project a "genuinely ambitious and unusual effort that presents a real possibility for lifting the economic fortunes of the entire Pioneer Valley."

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