After months of public proclamations from the protagonists, 11 casino firms lodged formal casino applications with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) with the single slot-parlor licence to be awarded by the end of 2013. The list of applicants that paid the non-refundable $400k fee to enter Phase 1 includes casino veterans in the shape of MGM Springfield, Penn National Gaming, Hard Rock MA, Wynn, and Mohegan Sun. This is in addition to Plainridge Racecourse, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, Raynham Park, Mass Gaming Entertainment, PPE Casino Resorts, and Crossroads Massachusetts.
Background checks on the 11 will be carried out by gaming experts at consultancy firms from Spectrum Gaming and Michael & Carroll and could take “up to six months” to complete. They will assess the applicants against a number of parameters including good character, honesty, integrity and financial suitability.
Steve Crosby, MGC chairman, added: “The Massachusetts legislation drafted the Expanded Gaming Act prioritizing competition as key criteria. The gaming commission has vigorously carried that charge forward resulting in the achievement of a gaming competition that is robust and primed to obtain that absolute maximum benefits in job creation and economic growth to the residents of the commonwealth.”
The MGC used the same release to state that “significant progress” has been made in drawing up regulations necessary for Phase 2 – the one that focuses on the specific site each company is proposing to use. It also announced it will be forging ahead with the single slots-parlor licence first in order to “speed up the process”. It’s anticipated that will be awarded before the conclusion of 2013.
There’s even light at the end of the tunnel for the full resort-casino licences as the MGC “anticipates” the first being awarded on or before Feb. 26, 2014.
In terms of locations, West Springfield Mayor Gregory C Neffinger was quick to announce that he’s setting up a committee to advise him on the best course of action should the Hard Rock/Eastern States consortium be successful in obtaining a licence. Neffinger will chair the Entertainment and Casino Ad Hoc Advisory Board and it will have eight other members that will look at issues connected to infrastructure, business development, taxes, tourism and public safety. Neffinger added: “Once we examine and digest all the collected material, we will explore the pros and cons so that residents of West Springfield will have the information they need to make the final decision.”