Massachusetts awards first resort casino licences to MGM and Wynn

7th November 2014 12:17 pm GMT

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has unanimously voted to award its first resort casino licences to operators MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts, with a third and final licence expected to be issued next year.

It follows Tuesday’s defeat of a ballot initiative to overturn the state’s 2011 casino law that allowed gaming resorts in the state. Just under 60 per cent of state voters (approximately 1.2m) were against a casino repeal measure, Question 3 on the ballot, with around 41 per cent of voters in support of banning the casino industry.

MGC chairman Steve Crosby said earlier this week that the Commission would respect the voters’ choice to continue moving forward with the successful implementation of the Gaming Act.

“The Commission remains committed to two key objectives: maximizing the revenue, jobs and other economic development impacts of expanded gaming; and minimizing the unintended and potentially negative consequences of expanded gaming,” he said. “We realize that approximately 41 per cent voted in favor of the ballot initiative, and it is our job to continue to earn the confidence of all the people of Massachusetts – proponents and opponents alike.”

Following the vote, the MGC voted Thursday to award the state’s first two resort casino licences to MGM Springfield and Wynn MA, with both of the properties expected to open next year. The operators had expected to receive the licences several months ago, but the final award was delayed until after the vote.

MGM Resorts chairman and CEO James Murren said: “This has been one of the most exciting weeks in MGM's history. We are grateful to the voters of the Commonwealth, and especially the people of Springfield for voting for jobs and economic opportunities. Today we want to thank the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for formalizing our agreement that will allow us to revitalize a great downtown.”

MGM said that it will pay its $85m licensing fee to the MGC on Monday, November 17th, while Wynn has already paid its $85m fee. Wynn is developing a $1.6bn plan for the waterfront in Everett, which is one the border with Boston.

“I want to commend the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for working with operators and other stakeholders to navigate what has been a long and challenging process,” continued Murren. “Their commitment to transparency and the spirit of the legislation has made our project stronger.”

MGM’s $800m integrated resort casino will include a 25-story 250-room hotel with amenities including a spa, pool and roof deck; 125,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,000 slot machines, 75 gaming tables, a poker room and high limit VIP gambling area; as well as 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space that will accommodate 15 shops and restaurants.

MGM Springfield expects to bring 3,000 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs to Downtown Springfield.  

“We have worked hard to develop a master plan to construct a world-class urban casino resort proposal that will anchor a renaissance for an important Gateway City and the region around it,” said MGM Springfield president Michael Mathis. “We now look forward to that becoming a reality.”

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