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The Highly-Anticipated MGM Springfield Casino Opens Friday

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WAMC
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   The first resort casino in Massachusetts has been given the green light to open its doors to the public Friday.  After four years of planning, regulatory approvals, construction, training and hiring a workforce, the MGM casino in Springfield is going to open its doors at 11 a.m. Friday.

     24 hours before the $960 million casino swings its doors open to the general public, there was a ceremonial opening.

     Before the $960 million casino swung its doors open to the general public, there was a ceremonial opening.

     A celebration in one the large ballrooms where MGM Resorts International CEO James Murren said his Las Vegas-based company’s first New England casino is an investment in the revival of a great American city.

   "Springfield, you took a chance. I promise it will be worth it," said Murren.

    Other dignitaries on a large stage at the event included Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Congressman Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby.

    There were performances by Blue Man Group and Jabbawockeez.   MGM has pledged to use its muscle in the entertainment industry draw people to the Springfield casino.

   " We are bringing all that entertainment back," said Murren, who in a dig at a regional competitor added, " Its not going to be messing around at Mohegan Sun anymore. We're a little bigger than them. We're bringing entertainment back."

    Baker called it a terrific day and said he was confident the casino in Springfield could withstand any challenge from a potential Indian casino just across the state line in Connecticut.

   "The folks at MGM are more than aware of what the New England market looks like, and they believe their brand and the quality of this facility , which is way more than a casino -- there's a ton of other activities and entertianment options here -- is simply going to overwhelm any competition in the area."

    Recounting how it was built on a three-block area of the city’s downtown that was ravaged by a tornado seven years ago, Mayor Domenic Sarno said the opening of the casino is “a special moment.”              

"To see from those ashes a phoenix has risen and that phoenix is MGM," said Sarno. " So come to Springfield. The red carpet is rolled out. You'll have a clean, a safe, and a fun time and we look forward to doing business with you for many many years to come."

   MGM now becomes Springfield’s single-largest taxpayer.  Under terms of a negotiated agreement, MGM pays the city roughly $17 million in tax payments annually and an additional $8 million in fees for municipal services to support the casino and to fund projects that benefit the community.

    Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said MGM passed a series of pre-opening tests of its casino operations.

     "We will be watching every single day to make sure the money goes where it is suppose to and that the people of Massachusetts can count on this being a highly secure and high inegrity facility," said Crosby.

    The 125,000-square-foot gambling floor has 2,550 slot machines, a 23-table poker room, and a high-limit VIP gaming area.

  

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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