MGM Springfield Plans Grand Opening for Friday, August 24

MGM Springfield Grand Opening

MGM Springfield’s development plan included making the resort a centerpiece of Springfield’s business, shopping, and cultural life.

MGM Springfield’s grand opening is this Friday, August 24. The $950 million integrated casino-resort in Springfield, Massachusetts is expected to have a massive impact on the local economy and a major impact on the regional casino industry.

When the MGM Springfield opens, it will be the first licensed commercial casino in Massachusetts history. The resort will have thousands of slot machines and dozens of table games, as well as a 5-star hotel. The complex includes restaurants, nightclubs, retail shopping, a live performance venue, and a convention center.

The resort will create over 3,000 permanent jobs for residents of western Massachusetts. MGM Resorts promised to hire a diverse workforce, while maintaining a dealer’s school to provide training for casino employees for MGM Resorts employees throughout the region.

MGM Springfield won’t be the only commercial Massachusetts casino for long. Next year, the Encore Boston Harbor (formerly the Wynn Boston Harbor) plans a grand opening. Located in the Boston suburb of Everett, the Encore Boston Harbor is a $2.4 billion casino-resort which should be the casino destination for Boston-area gamblers.

MGM Springfield’s Projected Revenues

Until then, the MGM Springfield should draw a large cross-section of Boston visitors, who can take a sight-seeing trip to Western Massachusetts and enjoy casino gambling and live shows on their holiday. The casino is owned by the Las Vegas Strip giant, MGM Resorts, which also owns the MGM Grand, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

On the American east coast, MGM Resorts owns Borgata, the number one casino in Atlantic City. The company also owns the MGM National Harbor, a Baltimore resort-casino which has been a huge success for the company these past couple of years. MGM Resorts own other casinos strategically placed around the United States, including Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi and Gold Strike Casino in Tunica.

MGM Resorts Profile

The company also owns MGM Macau and MGM Cotai on the Cotai Strip in Macau, China. Despite the MGM Grand and Bellagio being world famous, it is the Macau properties which generate the most gambling revenues for the company. MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren plans to bid on a Japanese casino license for Tokyo or Osaka, when bidding for that country’s lucrative casino licenses begin later this year.

For now, it is the MGM Springfield which is the center of attention. Massachusetts voters approved the licensing of up to 3 land-based commercial casinos in 2010. At the time, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was beset with the economic impact of the Global Recession, so officials were looking for more tax revenues without raising taxes directly.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Criticism

That led to a years-long licensing process, which sometimes was riven with controversy. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission came under fire for the way it handled the Everett casino license. Steve Wynn, the former CEO of Wynn Resorts, feuded with several local politicians, including Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston and Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville.

More importantly, the Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby came under fire for not revealing his ties to one of the landholders in the real estate deal Wynn Resorts made in Everett. Crosby eventually recused himself, then found himself investigated for attempting to influence MGC decisions behind the scenes. Caesars Entertainment and Suffolk Downs brought lawsuits against the MGC for what they considered bias on the part of Wynn Resorts, though it should be said that Steve Wynn’s bid was almost twice as high as the other bidders in the Boston license.

MGM Resorts’ bid for Springfield faced no such licensing controversy. Jim Murren’s company received a clean license and few in Massachusetts quibbled with the decision.

East Windsor Casino

The same could not be said for Connecticut residents. The Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods claimed the MGM Springfield would hurt revenues, because gamblers in Western Massachusetts would stop visiting Connecticut casinos.

Even worse, residents of northern Connecticut, especially those living in the Hartford area, would start going to the MGM Springfield. Since it was only 30 miles down the road — much closer than Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods — that made sense.

It made sense to the Connecticut state lawmakers, who approved a Hartford-area satellite casino to be jointly owned by the Mohegan Tribe and Mashantucket Pequot Tribe — owners of Connecticut’s tribal casinos. Eventually, the Hartford suburb of East Windsor won the casino license for the slots parlor, which was described as a “firewall” by Connecticut politicians.

Ryan Zinke Frustrates Connecticut Tribes

Meanwhile, MGM Resorts claimed that the Connecticut licensing process was unconstitutional by Connecticut’s state constitution. MGM Resorts sued, claiming their development plans for the prospective MGM Bridgeport never received a legitimate review. The lawsuit took two years, but eventually was thrown out by a judge. By that time, a handful of Connecticut lawmakers in the southeast part of the state were backing an MGM Bridgeport casino plan. The issue is still in question for some in the state legislature.

The East Windsor casino might never happen, though. US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been accused of slow-walking the East Windsor casino’s approval to the benefit of MGM Resorts. Under the 1988 Indian Gaming Act, all new tribal casinos must be approved by the Indian Affairs Bureau, which is part of the US Department of the Interior. Once again, the future of the Hartford area casino remains in question at present.

MGM Springfield’s Grand Opening: August 24

That leaves the MGM Springfield with no local competition as it prepares for its August 24th grand opening. With no East Hartford casino and no competition from the Encore Boston Harbor resort, MGM Springfield should be generate huge revenues over its first year of operation.