Destination Casinos Help To Speed Up The Rate Of Development

In 2011 when casino gambling was legalized by the Legislature and Governor Patrick, a strategy was developed to expand the normal benefits of casinos. The strategy was that instead of focusing on promoting revenue and jobs, in Massachusetts, the casino legislation prescribed “destination resort casinos”, also designed to create broad-based economy development. This strategy was adopted only in Massachusetts, and to be candid, it was kind of a calculated risk. Typically, the developments of casinos across the nation have not led to broad-based development of the economy, although they have often created jobs and provide revenues. The proposal of the casino legislation is an audacious strategy.

It serves as a loud call for more amenities in the gambling establishment; a huge rise in the required minimum capital investment (providing assurance of quality facilities and large construction projects); possibility of integrating with other establishments that drive the economy in the region; and a mid-range tax rate ( 25 percent of the total gaming revenue ). This is to hopefully provide the policy and economic tools to aid broad-based development of the economy.

The visit to Springfield recently by the Commission shows that the dedication to this strategy is paying off. The report by the Springfield officials indicates a fair rise in investments related to economic development. It shows a 16.4 percent increase since December 2014. It serves as a portion of an estimated total investment of $3.307 billion since the tragic 2011 incident when the devastating tornado destroyed part of the city.

The MGM Springfield project extends more than the normal casino proposal partly because of the strong competition solicitation by Chief Development officer Kevin Kennedy and Springfield mayor, Domenic Sarno. An extensive mixed-use development project promised by the MGM plan not only includes a casino, restaurants and a four-star hotel, but also an ice skating rink, extensive retail, a seasonal public market, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and 54 of market-rate housing units.

The Springfield proposal by MGM is boldly working towards comprehensive mixed-use development and casino economics serving as anchor. Presently, no other casino in the country can match the concept. The MGM Springfield proposal have been noted and admired by a lot of people even by casino skeptics as well. The proposal has only existed in the form of renderings and promises until recently; there is now a great chance of the renderings becoming reality.

On the previous site ( of tornado destruction and decay, the site in Springfield’s South End, just like a phoenix; steel structures, deep cement foundations and concrete wall are starting to rise. The effect of the MGM proposal will turn out to be greater than the prospect of turning the renderings into steel and concrete reality.

It seems MGM Springfield are galvanizing a wide sense of “Springfield Rising”. Projects with little or no chance of coming to fulfillment without the casino and some projects that could have just been nothing more than one-off initiatives. Such projects include the renovation of Union Station and the Chinese assembly plant for railroad cars. In order to attract more economic development, they have collaborated with MGM Springfield. These developments include a cultural district, a new innovation center, and a regional bike-sharing program. In Holyoke, Holyoke Community College’s Center for Hospital and Culinary Arts has recently been founded. Other new developers are monitoring various locations in the city.

The business community’s rally to change the Springfield minor-league hockey team is perhaps the most instructive.

Within months after the Springfield Falcons decided to leave town, the Portland Pirates was bought by 22 local business people in conjunction with MGM and the mayor. They renamed the team the Springfield Thunderbirds after the American Hockey League allowed them to relocate the hockey team to Springfield.

A community collaboration and action like this can only occur in a city where there is high confidence and optimism in the future of the city’s economy. A sense of optimism and hope like this is common in Springfield and in many of the communities around it.

Although still in the early stage of development, the project by The Wynn Boston Harbor in Everett has shown a similar sign of optimism of broad-based economic development. This is partly due to the huge size of the project. In the history of Massachusetts, the $2.1 billion cost of Wynn’s full project makes it the biggest single-phase development. At a recent Gaming Commission meeting, Mayor Carlo DeMaria testified that, “As we all know, the Wynn Resort is at the center of Everett’s environmental and economic revitalization. Everett was recently named one of the top 10 places to live in the Commonwealth. Our commercial and residential property values are on the rise, and our waterfront is being restored as a wonderful natural resource and recreational asset for our residents. With a new harbor walk, we realize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open a waterfront that’s been fenced off for more than a century and then invite all our residents and neighbors and guests to enjoy it for generations to come.” The Legislature believed that destination resort casino could turn out to be a major catalyst for rejuvenating the economy of small post-industrial cities. The Gaming Commission would be pleased as it is starting to turn out that they were correct.