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Mohegan Sun To Present Casino Plans At Public Forum In Palmer


One of the gaming industry heavyweights looking to build a resort  casino in western Massachusetts is expected to reveal more details about its project tonight at  an eagerly anticipated  public meeting. 

Mohegan Sun officials are expected to reveal changes to their original plans for a $600 million resort casino development in Palmer to address the competition that has sprung up in the last year for the lone casino license available in western Massachusetts.  The meeting is scheduled for 7PM at  Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Mohegan Sun has pursued a casino project on property just off  the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer for years.  But now there is competition from MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming that have projects in downtown Springfield, and Hard  Rock International, which has proposed to build a resort casino on part of the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield.

Palmer Town Councilor Paul Burns says he’ll be looking for Mohegan Sun officials to explain what their project will mean for regional economic growth.

Burns is encouraging a large turnout  tonight  to demonstrate the community’s support for the casino project.

Jennifer Baruffaldi, who is a spokesperson for two  pro-casino groups in Palmer, says some residents in the rural town of 12,000 people may have questions about the project’s impact on traffic and other concerns.  But, she claims support for the Mohegan Sun casino project has grown in Palmer in the face of the competition from Springfield and West Springfield.

Palmer is the only so-called   “rural casino” in the competition in western Massachusetts, and in an interview earlier this year, Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess said that is one of the reasons he believes it is the front runner.

Additional public presentations have been scheduled in Springfield’s casino selection process. On March 11, officials from MGM and Penn National will participate in a two hour forum at the City Stage theater.  City officials say the purpose of the presentations is to clarify traffic plans and offer more details about the non-casino aspects of the proposals.

Both casino operators outlined their plans at a public forum last December that was attended by several hundred people.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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