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MGM Springfield Unveils Venue For Sports Betting Should Massachusetts Legalize It

Paul Tuthill
This new sports lounge in the MGM Springfield casino is designed to seamlessly incorporate sports betting if it becomes legal in Massachusetts, MGM officials said.

New lounge with theater seats and HD video wall is just off the casino floor

The MGM Springfield casino marked the third anniversary of its opening today with a look into what could be the future of gambling in Massachusetts.

Three years ago, the doors of the $1 billion resort casino complex in downtown Springfield opened to the public, never to close again – or so it was said at the time.

The coronavirus pandemic upended that plan. The casino was closed for four months during 2020, leaving 2,000 people out of work. Then came curfews and capacity limits last winter and spring. The hotel and some other amenities only recently reopened.

MGM Springfield President and COO Chris Kelly said the facility is poised for a strong comeback.

“Our best days still lie before us,” said Kelly.

Last month, MGM counted $23.71 million in gross gaming revenue – its best monthly take since June 2019. And that was without poker, which will not return to the stable of table games until later this year.

To celebrate its third anniversary, MGM Springfield opened a sports lounge.

“And the timing could not be better,” Kelly said.

Positioned just off the gaming floor, it features more than 70 luxury theater-style seats facing a 45-foot HD viewing wall that can show 16 channels simultaneously.

It is designed to seamlessly become the venue in the casino for sports betting, should the Massachusetts legislature expand legal gambling in the state to include wagering on sports.

“We’re very optimistic that we’ll see legislation later this year and in the event we have the opportunity to start taking bets this is the room,” Kelly said. “We’re ready to rock and roll.”

He said sports betting would be a “meaningful amenity” and would help MGM Springfield remain competitive with the casinos in Connecticut that will soon have sportsbooks.

“I walk the floor (of the casino) every day and if there is one question I get more than any other it it is ‘When will I be able to place a bet at MGM Springfield?’,” Kelly said.

The TAP Sports Bar on the MGM property also unveiled a new sports lounge Tuesday. However, sports betting would not be available there.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts House voted 156-3 to pass a sports betting bill.

State Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow said he expects the Senate will take up a sports betting bill before the end of the year.

He said some Senators remain “skeptical” about sports betting.

“You’ve seen some momentum here with the House taking it up, it remains to be seen what happens in the Senate,” Lesser said last month just before the legislature took its August recess.

Thirty states have now legalized sports betting since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lifted a federal prohibition.

“I think the fact that you’ve seen Rhode Island and New Hampshire get their markets set up with New York and Connecticut not far behind puts some added pressure on Massachusetts to get moving, but it is by no means a done deal,” Lesser said.

Gov. Charlie Baker has filed his own bill and has for the last several years included projected revenue from sports betting in his annual budget recommendations.

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.