Officials Confident MGM Will Stick Around In Springfield, Mass.

Apr 27, 2018

MGM announced Thursday it plans to open its Springfield, Massachusetts, casino slightly ahead of schedule, on August 24. The news comes amid speculation the casino giant is wavering on its commitment to the project.

But the city's top development official says the idea is unfounded.

There's been speculation MGM may sell its Springfield casino license since The Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources, that MGM is in early talks to buy Wynn's Everett casino.

Kevin Kennedy, Springfield's chief development officer, dismissed the idea that MGM would sell its Springfield casino license in favor of a casino in eastern Massachusetts.

“If you analyze the facts, it doesn’t any make sense,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense for Massachusetts. It doesn’t make any sense for MGM. Regulatory-wise, there would have been a lot of issues for them to overcome, both in China and in the Las Vegas strip.”

Kennedy pointed to Wynn CEO Matt Maddox's statement that the Everett casino isn't for sale. An MGM spokesman declined to comment on speculation.

Meanwhile, MGM is hiring for more than 1,000 positions at the Springfield casino. A gaming school that guarantees students an audition for a card-dealing job has been having a hard time enrolling students, especially from its host city.

An overview of the MGM Springfield project, facing north. The casino is expecting to open August 24.

Marikate Murren, the casino's VP of human resources, said MGM's hiring effort is on track.

"I’m cautiously optimistic about our hiring commitment," she said. "We have people pouring into the system -- thousands and thousands right now -- though we would love more people in the gaming school."

Thirty-five percent of MGM jobs must go to Springfield residents. Murren said a new class for the gaming school begins May 7.

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies, including Rhode Island Public Radio, coming together to tell stories of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.