On Springfield

Two Down; One Casino Vote to Go

So the folks at MGM must be feeling pretty good today, right?

Yesterday, voters in West Springfield eliminated one of MGM’s two competitors for the one casino license to be awarded in western Mass. By a margin of 55 to 45 percent, West Side voters sent Hard Rock and its proposed casino at the Big E packing.

Those results took a lot of people off guard; after all, Hard Rock had been working hard to win over residents, touting a host-community agreement that promised $18 million in annual payments to the town, plus an initial payment of about $41 million, the bulk of it for much-needed road improvements.

But casino opponents, led by the grassroots No Casino West Springfield, won the day with their argument that the project would hurt local businesses and lead to crime, gambling addiction and other social woes. And they did it by spending a tiny fraction of what Hard Rock did: $1,800, compared to the nearly $1 million the casino company dropped (and those figures, as the Republican’s Robert Rizzuto reports, did not include spending during the final week before the vote).

With Hard Rock out of the running, MGM—which won a Springfield referendum in July—has just one rival for the region’s casino license: Mohegan Sun, whose Palmer proposal goes before voters on Nov. 5.

© 2014 The Valley Advocate