Three firms submit western Mass. hotel-casino proposals
By Danny King
MGM Resorts International, Penn National Gaming and Ameristar Casinos
have each proposed hotel-casino projects in or near Springfield, Mass., worth
at least $800 million each, in their quest
to obtain the single gaming license that
Massachusetts plans to give out for the
western part of the state by early 2014.
Last month, Ameristar and Penn National both pitched resorts that would
include 500-room luxury hotels. Ameristar Springfield, which would cost
an estimated $910 million and would
sit on a 40-acre property the company
bought in January, would also include a
150,000-square-foot casino with 3,300
Penn National’s $807 million Hollywood Casino Springfield called for a
300,000-square-foot casino as well as a
so-called “village square” component that
would include retail and restaurants.
Both of those projects would appear to
usurp one proposed in August by MGM
Resorts International, the largest of the
three bidders. MGM proposed the smallest casino, at 89,000 square feet, as part
of an $800 million project unveiled in
August that would have 250 hotel rooms
as well as 200,000 square feet of retail
and restaurant space. MGM Resorts had
previously looked at Brimfield, about 25
miles east of Springfield, as a possible resort site.
MGM, Penn National and
Ameristar each seek the
sole gaming license for the
state’s western region.
million in their projects and fork over
25% of gross gaming revenue to the state.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission
Chairman Stephen Crosby estimated last
year that casinos might ultimately generate as much as $350 million a year in annual gaming taxes.
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts, whose
market value of about $5.2 billion is
about 70% more than Penn National’s
and about eight times the size of Am-
eristar’s, has properties in Detroit; Biloxi
and Tunica, Miss.; Macau; and in Sanya,
China, in addition to Las Vegas.
Additionally, Hard Rock International
had expressed interest in the prospective western Massachusetts license before
deciding to drop out of the running last
Ameristar says its land ownership
and location would give it as much as
an 18-month head start over competing
projects in terms of when construction
would begin, while Penn National CEO
Peter Carlino said the company’s previ-
ous experience in building urban casinos
makes it “the ideal partner in a renais-
sance for Springfield’s downtown area.”
The three companies are bidding for
one of Massachusetts’ first gaming licens-
es under a plan allowing for three gam-
ing licenses for casino resorts — one each
in western Massachusetts, southeastern
Massachusetts and the Boston area — and
one license for a slots-only facility. On
Oct. 19, the state put out its first request
for gaming-license applications, mandat-
ing a $400,000 nonrefundable applica-
tion fee and giving potential applicants a
deadline of Jan. 15.
The state expects to grant its first gaming licenses by February 2014.
For the Massachusetts projects, each
resort developer will have to pay an $85
million license fee, invest at least $500
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