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Northampton seeks $100,000 in casino mitigation funds

  • David Narkewicz



@BeraDunau
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — On Thursday, the city of Northampton will try to get $100,000 from the commonwealth to offset the economic impact of the MGM Springfield casino on the city.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will decide on the application at its meeting in Springfield.

“We’re seeking the maximum that we’re eligible for,” Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz said.

MGM Springfield is set to open in 2018. The winner of the state’s western Massachusetts casino license, it will be the first casino to ever open in this part of the state.

Narkewicz campaigned against the legalization of casino gambling in Massachusetts. However, now that MGM Springfield is set to become a reality, he and the city are looking to induce some of the patrons who are drawn there to visit Northampton as well.

“MGM Springfield is going to be built,” Narkewicz said. “How do we make sure that the customers who are ... coming to MGM Springfield know about Northampton?”

According to a study done by Camoin Associates for the city, which was released in 2013, the casino will reduce recreational spending sales in the city by 4 percent in a “low case” scenario and by 8 percent in a “high case” scenario. This translates into a loss of sales of $4.4 million to $8.8 million. The study also estimates a loss of 90 to 180 jobs and $1.6 million to $3.2 million in lost earnings.

Narkewicz said that many local businesses operate on small margins, and that any loss of revenue would have an impact on them.

In 2014, using the Camoin Associates study, the city applied to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for “surrounding community” status, so that it could receive funds to mitigate the casino’s impact on it. Although Northampton was not granted this status, it has since been deemed eligible to apply for mitigation funds from the commission’s Community Mitigation Fund.

Northampton wants the money to develop and launch an advertising campaign to get customers of the casino to also choose to visit Northampton as well.

“I certainly want Springfield to be successful,” Narkewicz said. “We also want to make sure that Northampton remains vibrant and that our downtown economy remains strong.”

Should the application be approved, Narkewicz said he would like an advisory board to be formed to help develop the marketing strategy.

The meeting Thursday, which is open to the public, will start at 9:30 a.m. at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main St., Rooms 1 and 2.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.