Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno took a break last week from managing his city’s latest weather-related crisis to announce that both the casino developers courting the city will advance to the next round of the competition.
The administration will now begin negotiating “host community agreements” with both Penn National, which wants to build a casino in the North End, and MGM, whose plan is centered in the South End. There’s no guarantee, however, that “the City will reach an agreement with either MGM or Penn,” Sarno’s office noted in an announcement of his decision.
The previous week, the City Council’s casino site committee weighed in with a non-binding resolution in support of both plans moving forward.
The negotiations are expected to be completed by early April. Any agreement or agreements approved by Sarno will go before the City Council, then before city voters for approval. A date for that city-wide vote has yet to be set, although there’s some hope in City Hall that the question might appear on the ballot on June 25, the date set for the special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry’s recent appointment as Secretary of State.
Whichever plan or plans emerge from Springfield’s selection process will then compete with two other projects, in Palmer and West Springfield, vying for the sole casino license to be awarded in Western Mass. The Mass. Gaming Commission will make the final call on who receives that license.