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State gaming commissioner to speak at Amherst Chamber breakfast

Bruce Stebbins, a commissioner with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, will speak at the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast April 10 as a way of informing businesspeople about the process for selecting a casino and why the state is interested in having these resorts.

“This will give people the opportunity to hear what the Gaming Commission is thinking and express concerns or support for the project,” said Tony Maroulis, the chamber’s executive director. “This very much goes into the theme of what is the biggest issue of the year here.”

The breakfast, which will be held at Applewood at Amherst, begins at 7:15 a.m. and runs until 9 a.m.

Four proposals are competing for the western Massachusetts license, with MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming projects planned for Springfield, Mohegan Sun for Palmer and Hard Rock International for West Springfield.

Maroulis said a casino will affect the regional job market, with a need for more skilled and unskilled labor needed. He anticipates there will be an impact on the hospitality industry, as the resorts will have their own accommodations and restaurants.

Maroulis said there will be both positive and negative effects. “They will certainly be something we have to be concerned about for our downtowns,” he said.

Though a buffer exists between Amherst and the proposed sites, the casino would still be only 20 miles away. “It’s really not that far,” Maroulis said.

A native of western Massachusetts, Stebbins previously served as business development administrator for Springfield and served two terms on the Springfield City Council.

His visit follows one in January when Mitchell Etess, the CEO of Mohegan Sun, spoke at the chamber’s annual luncheon. Maroulis said the chamber will reach out to executives for other casinos interested in presenting information about their proposals at future breakfasts or luncheons.

The breakfast is $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Anyone planning to attend should RSVP by contacting the chamber at 253-0700.

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