MGM has negotiated a “mitigation agreement” with Ludlow, guaranteeing that town an annual payment of $75,000 a year if the company opens a casino in Springfield. The Ludlow Select Board approved the deal earlier this week.
The agreement also includes a one-time payment of $50,000 by MGM to cover the town’s consulting and legal fees, reports CBS’s Chris Stewart. The casino company also will pay for a consultant to study what effects a Springfield casino would have on Ludlow. (Is it just me, or should that question have been answered before the town signed off on a mitigation agreement?)
Ludlow is the first neighboring town to sign an agreement with MGM, although a company official tells the Republican’s Elizabeth Roman that its working on getting other pacts in place before Dec. 31, the deadline for applications to the Mass. Gaming Commission. “I know there was some anxiety about which community would be the first to reach an agreement with us," Michael Mathis, an MGM VP told Roman. “We have had some very productive conversations with other communities and are looking to secure more of these agreements so that we can provide a full application.”
Meanwhile, as Chad Cain reports in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, who’s expressed concern about what a Springfield casino would do to his city’s downtown businesses, plans to ask the Gaming Commission to add Northampton to the list of affected communities if it cannot first reach an agreement with MGM. The city’s negotiations with the casino company haven’t gotten anywhere. Narkewicz also plans to ask the City Council to approve spending $22,000 to hire a consultant to study the effects of a casino on Northampton. (Sounds like casino-effects-consultant is a pretty good business to be in these days, doesn’t it?)
Finally, as Mike Dobbs notes in this week’s Reminder, the Gaming Commission is poised to announce any day now if MGM has passed its vetting process and can move forward in its application for a casino license. “If MGM is rejected, Springfield residents will probably be facing another effort to bring a casino to the city,” Dobbs writes. “Springfield is the only community that has approved a casino deal through a referendum in our region and at least on paper would be the easiest sell.”