After a smooth opening 21 days ago, the first resort casino in Massachusetts has been awarded a permanent operating license from state regulators.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to issue a permanent certificate of operations to the MGM Springfield casino after hearing reports from its staff that the state’s first Las Vegas-style gambling facility is complying with all rules and regulations and taking steps to address problems, including minors getting onto the casino floor.
Commissioner Bruce Stebbins, who was designated to observe two test nights at the casino and authorized to sign a temporary permit so that it could open as planned on August 24th, said MGM’s first weeks in business in Springfield have gone smoothly.
"I am confident and seen evidence that our team and the MGM staff are working diligently to stay on top of certain issues," said Stebbins. " Obviously, our role continues after the doors have opened."
After discovering that minors have been going onto the casino floor in violation of state law, MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis told commissioners two new polices are being put in place. Youths under 16 must now be in the company of an adult at all times. After midnight, no one under 21-years of age, except for hotel guests, will be allowed anywhere in the casino complex.
"Any incidents of underage access or underage gaming is unacceptable, but given the volumes ( of people) we are managing and the porous nature of this resort, which I think we understand was an opportunity, but would create challenges, we are really working very hard to get ahead of that issue," Mathis told commissioners at a meeting in Boston.
The resort was designed with many non-gaming amenities including a bowling alley, restaurants, retail stores, a soon-to-open movie theater and an outdoor plaza that is a venue for everything from rock concerts to morning yoga classes.
Mathis said the opening weekend “exceeded expectations” with 150,000 people visiting the casino. Since then, he said the complex has seen an average of 50,000 people on weekends and 25,000 people on weekdays.
" We expect some of those numbers to normalize, but there is no question there is tremendous interest in our resort," said Mathis.
The gaming commission on Monday is expected to report the first revenue figures from the MGM casino.
The state regulators were told the casino is in line with most of its employment goals. 37 percent of its employees are residents of the city of Springfield.
"Our team is continuing to look for local hires," said Mathis. " A lot of people have now visited the facility and said 'I want to work at MGM Springfield', so we are using the facility to recruit at this point," said Mathis.
Mathis said 55 percent of the employees are minorities, 6 percent are veterans, and 46 percent are women -- the only category where the casino has fallen short of its target to have half its workforce female.
MGM has yet to build the off-site housing that is part of its development agreement with the city of Springfield.
There is a March 2019 deadline for MGM to decide if it will pursue a project to build apartments in a long-vacant hotel building a block away from the downtown casino.
MGM Thursday announced plans to open a comedy club in January inside the former National Guard Armory building on the grounds of the resort.