We’re still a long way from seeing the four remaining positions filled on the State Gaming Commission. That means there won’t be a decision anytime soon on where casinos will be placed in the state. However, we are in a position to make some pretty good guesses about the four casino proposals already being talked about in western Massachusetts.
It’s a pretty fair bet that the Hard Rock International group’s proposal for a casino in Holyoke is unlikely to happen. That’s because Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse has long made it clear that he’s opposed to a casino in his town. His election last November as an anti-casino candidate is practically tantamount to having a referendum on the issue. Since the state law requires that a community must vote in favor of a casino before a license will be issued – you can probably scratch Holyoke off the list of potential sites.
As for the Ameristar Casinos’ Springfield proposal – its’ inner-city location would seem to be a problem. The Governor has always stressed that casinos should be resort-style destinations, so putting one of these half-billion dollar facilities on an old industrial site in an urban neighborhood just doesn’t seem like something that will make the Gaming Commission happy.
That leaves the Mohegan Sun proposal for Palmer and the recently-announced MGM Resorts International proposal for Brimfield as the plans that right now seem to have the best chance to win the one casino license that can be granted in western Mass..
Brimfield in particular – with plans for an isolated casino site right next to the Turnpike seems like it would have the least impact on the people around it – and that could be a critical factor when it comes time to for the Commission to vote. Add in the fact that MGM Resorts International is perhaps the most successful and richest player in the casino game worldwide – and the Brimfield proposal seems even stronger.
Now, the “Hard Rock” group is looking for another potential casino site in the region beyond Holyoke…perhaps just across the river in Chicopee. There are also rumors that other major gaming companies may still enter the contest here, so anything can happen. I’d say the one safe bet in all of this is that a truckload of cash is going to be spent by competing gambling interests to win community support and ultimately to win the casino license in western Mass.