Tuesday, January 14, 2014
BOSTON — MGM Resorts International was cleared by state gambling regulators on Monday to pursue a casino in Springfield.
The five-member Massachusetts Gaming Commission issued a positive determination of suitability for MGM, saying the company had met its standards in several areas including honesty and integrity and financial stability. The decision followed a lengthy background check and a favorable recommendation this month from the panel’s investigative arm.
MGM is the only remaining applicant for the sole western Massachusetts resort casino license allowed under the state’s 2011 gambling law, but the suitability ruling doesn’t guarantee final approval for the $800 million Springfield project. The commission tentatively expects to make casino licensing decisions by May 30.
MGM chairman James Murren said in a statement: “Our approach from the start of this rigorous process has been to be as forthright and thorough as possible in order to showcase our company’s incredible global work ethic and high standards.”
The finding by Massachusetts regulators came days after Maryland issued MGM a license for a $925 million casino and resort as the gambling company looks to dramatically strengthen its foothold in the eastern United States.
Also Monday, Mohegan Sun and Revere officials announced a revised host community agreement that would guarantee the city up to $33 million in upfront payments and between $25 million and $30 million in annual payments if a casino is built on land owned by Suffolk Downs.
The Revere-only proposal emerged after an earlier proposal by Suffolk Downs for a casino on the Boston-Revere border was rejected Nov. 5 by voters in the East Boston neighborhood. The new agreement, which must be approved by Revere voters, calls for Mohegan Sun to provide $40 million in infrastructure improvements and gives city residents preference in hiring.
Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun entered a partnership with Suffolk Downs after an earlier casino proposal in Palmer was rejected by voters there.
“This agreement formalizes the strong partnership we’ve quickly established with Revere and lays out the many ways the city and its residents will benefit from Mohegan Sun Massachusetts,” said Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, in a statement.
Wynn Resorts has proposed a casino in Everett and is vying for the sole eastern Massachusetts license.
The commission said MGM satisfactorily addressed several issues raised by investigators during the background check, including the company’s handling of a criminal case involving a former board member convicted of wire-tapping the ex-wife of a billionaire investor in a child support dispute. Investigators expressed concern the former board member had been allowed to continue to consult with the company even after his indictment and resignation.
The commissioners wrote in Monday’s suitability decision that MGM executives had shown “candor and honesty in admitting the errors they made” in the matter.
Investigators also scrutinized MGM’s activities in the Chinese territories of Macau, the world’s fastest-growing gambling market, and in its business relationship with the daughter of a gambling kingpin accused of having ties to Chinese gangs. The commission said it was satisfied the daughter wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of MGM’s Macau casino and her relationship with MGM wasn’t influenced by him.