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With Casino Now Open, Springfield Looks To Extend Pawn Shop Moratorium

A pawn shop store front

     Steps are being taken to extend a moratorium on new pawn shops in the largest city in western Massachusetts. 

    Springfield City Councilor Justin Hurst, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, plans to recommend to the full Council in January that it vote to extend for three years a ban on licensing new pawn shops and secondhand stores.  The current moratorium expires on June 30, 2019.

    "My hope is that now we will extend it to 2022," Hurst said Tuesday.

    The impetus for the pawn shop moratorium, which was first approved in 2014 and then extended by the council for three years in 2016, was the licensing of a casino for Springfield and the concern that it could be a magnet for businesses where people could readily turn possessions into cash.

    With the MGM casino open now for less than six months, Hurst thinks it is best to continue to limit the number of pawn stores and junk dealers that can operate in the city.

   "So hopefully once you have three years  worth of data you can see if there is a  need for more pawn shops," said Hurst. 

    He said he has heard no calls for ending the moratorium on new pawn shops.

   " I think most people would say we are already saturated," said Hurst.

    The Springfield Police Department endorses continuing the moratorium.

    The current number of pawn shops and junk dealers in the city, which is about 40, is manageable, according to Detective Luis Adames of the police department’s Major Crimes-Burglary/Larceny Unit.

    "We track things that get sold in these establishments and allowing new licenses would not assist us in the cases we have  going on," said Adames.

    Speaking at a Public Safety Committee meeting at City Hall Tuesday, the detective was asked if there has been an increase in stolen goods showing up at pawn shops since the casino opened last summer.

     " We  can't say there is an uptick we can correlate based on the fact ( the casino) has opened," said Adames.

    In addition to banning new shops in 2014, the City Council also voted to require pawn stores to maintain electronic records including photographs of jewelry.

      "It has been an effective tool for us," said Adames.

    The city ordinance also requires stores to hold used goods for 30 days before being put up for sale.


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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