A billboard campagin aims to strengthen trust in MGM Springfield's commitment to open in September 2018, providing a projected 3,000 jobs.
Drivers traveling south on Interstate 91 in Massachusetts will pass three billboards announcing that the commercial casino is "moving forward" and that MGM is "working hard", reported massive.com.
In September, MGM abandoned its plans for a 25-story, glass hotel tower, replacing it with a smaller six-story resort. MGM Resorts International additionally announced plans to reduce its retail and entertainment (bowling alley and movie theater) square footage. Overall, the company said it is cutting back on the casino's size by nearly 14 percent. The proposed project changes are anticipated to reduce daily casino visits, reported masslive.com.
The downsizing won't lower the resort's price tag, which is now up to about $950 million, reported the AP.
"The billboards are our way of letting people know that MGM is working diligently toward a 2018 opening, notwithstanding our recent challenges," MGM Springfield spokeswoman Carole Brennan said.
MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis told 22 News that the promotional efforts signify the company's desire to engage in transparent conversation.
"We are going nowhere," Mathis told the AP.
Connecticut Comes Into Play
A third Connecticut casino near the state's northern border, just miles from Springfield, is intended to eat away at some of the MGM casino's customer base.
MGM's downscaling is allegedly tied to the border war. But MGM has publicly denied the modification is related to the pending competition, reported casino.org.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes teamed up in September under the joint gaming enterprise MM4CT Venture to bid on opening a satellite casino in northern Connecticut, which is intended to maintain marketshare against competition coming to Massachusetts. The tribes currently run Connecticut's two casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, in the southeastern part of the state.
Massachusetts' Gaming Landscape
On November 22, 2011, then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) approved the Expanded Gaming Act legislation, allowing three new commercial gaming facilities divided into three specific regions. MGM was the victor of the bidding war for the Springfield location, Wynn won the Boston-area Everett license, and Penn National was granted the right to add a slots parlor to the Plainridge Park harness horseracing track.
Massachusetts is home to two federally recognized tribes: the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
The Mashpees gained federal recognition in 2007. Finally, on Friday, January 8, 2016, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior added the tribe’s reservation proclamation to the Federal Register, paving the way for the tribe to open its prospective casino, Project First Light, reported capecodetimes.com. The Mashpee tribe has its sights on Taunton; the tribe collectively owns 321 acres in Mashpee and Taunton.
The Massachusetts commission is currently deciding whether to award a commercial license in Southeastern Massachusetts to Massachusetts Gaming & Entertainment. The company has proposed a $677 million casino in Brockton. The decision will determine whether the Mashpees will be required to pay a portion of its gross gaming revenues to the state. If the state approves a commercial casino in the area, under the terms of the tribe's compact signed by then-Gov. Deval Patrick, the tribe will pay nothing to the state. If the commission does not green light a commercial casino in the region, the tribe has agreed to pay 17 percent of its revenues to Massachusetts.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)'s efforts to plan a gaming facility on Martha's Vineyard were recently shot down. In November, U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Saylor IV dismissed the suit between the tribe and Massachusetts. On January 5, 2016, the judge imposed a permanent injunction against the tribe’s efforts for a proposed bingo hall in Aquinnah, reported worldcasinodirectory.com.