- MGM Springfield was the first resort casino in Massachusetts to open, in August 2018
- The casino had revenues of almost $100m (£78m) through the end of 2018
- Early problems included underage gamblers on the casino floor
- Latest figures show a significant increase in crime in its area
Opening of the MGM Springfield
Massachusetts made commercial casinos legal in 2011, but it was seven years before a casino was up and running. That was the MGM Springfield, one of the three casino resorts allowed under the Expanded Gaming Act.
The Encore Harbor Casino has one of the other licenses but has been experiencing serious issues. The final license is still up for grabs. The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is trying to get that third available license through court action.
The MGM Springfield opened on August 24, 2018. This led to the creation of 3,000 new jobs and it will be a big boost for the local economy, as well as attracting more tourists to the region. Of course, Massachusetts will benefit from the tax revenues.
The project cost almost $1bn (£776m) to complete. The local government believes that the casino will pay as much as $100m annually in taxes. What’s more, the casino resort is built on re-purposed land that had been hard hit by a tornado in 2011.
The MGM Springfield has more than 2,500 slot machines and more than 100 gaming tables. A 250-room hotel has all of the usual entertainment and dining facilities.
In its first week of operations, the casino brought in about $9.5m (£7.4m). Slot machines made up most of this revenue with $7.3m (£5.7m). The state taxes the gambling revenues at 25%, which brought in almost $100m (£78m) from its opening to the end of the calendar year.
Some teething problems
The casino faced some problems at the start of operations. Among them was an issue of underage gamblers getting onto the casino floor. This was blamed on the large numbers of people visiting the newly open casino.
The design of the casino floor was another problem because the restaurant and shopping areas in the resort provide very easy access to the floor of the casino. Management has been looking at ways to curb this issue.
With concerns about problem gambling in the local area and the state as a whole, some new policies have been established. All casino staff members are now trained to help them spot those who may be suffering from problem gambling. They now have the skills and knowledge about what they need to do in this situation.
Worrying crime figures
Now there is another significant problem for the MGM Springfield. According to the local police, the casino is a magnet for crime.
A report from the ABC television affiliate WCVB said that the area of the casino is seeing double the amount of crime in its initial four months than the other major casino in the state saw in an entire year. This other establishment is the Plainridge Park Casino, which is run by Penn National.
According to figures from the Massachusetts State Police, there were 208 incidents and 120 arrests inside the MGM Springfield from September through December. That included 16 robberies and larcenies, 5 assaults, and 2 sexual offenses. There were 22 crimes in the area in the three months before opening. In the following five months, there were 115 crimes.
In the entire year of 2018, there were 115 incidents at the Plainridge Park Casino.
A report is expected in March about public safety in the area of the facility. Since Plainridge Park opened in June 2015, there has been no uptick in crime levels. This clearly cannot be said for the MGM Springfield. A lot of work needs to be done to curb this issue in the future.
New gaming commissioner
Stephen Crosby suddenly resigned as chairperson of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in September 2018. Gayle Cameron has been serving as interim chairperson since then.
Governor Charlie Baker has now appointed Cathy Judd-Stein as the new commissioner. She is being thrown in at the deep end as issues continue with the Encore Boston Harbor Casino and now the concerns about safety at the MGM Springfield.