PALMER, Mass. (WGGB) — Aside from a small store front in Palmer, Mohegan Sun has been keeping fairly quiet for the last few months. But all that changed today.
Mohegan Sun announced Monday afternoon that they have filed their formal application to the Mass. Gaming Commission and submitted their $400,000 non-refundable application fee.
“This is an important day for Mohegan Sun, for Western Massachusetts and the entire Commonwealth. Today, we take the next critical step in fulfilling our commitment to bringing new jobs and economic growth to the region. It’s our intent to be the first casino to open its doors in Massachusetts,” says Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council.
“It does concern me when you wait right until the end and I think it’s kind of a disturbing thing and I’m not sure we had to go through that,” says Paul Burns, Palmer Town Councilor at Large. “It certainly had raised concerns among my constituents and that was an issue for me and many in Palmer.”
Burns adds, “I think that’s behind us now that they’ve stepped up and paid the fee.”
The news Monday comes as Mohegan Sun also announced that they have created a “strategic partnership” with New York-based investment advisor Brigade Capital Management to build the resort casino on over 100 acres of land located just off the Mass. Turnpike in Palmer.
According to a statement, “Brigade will invest capital into the corporate entity that is being established” for the project.
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Michael Etess adds, “Brigade Capital Management will be a great partner and important asset to this project. They are experienced as institutional investment partners on gaming projects in several states across the U.S., and understand the business that Mohegan Sun has been successful in for 16 years.”
“I think with an announcement like this and their ability to really develop a first-class project with that kind of backing, I think that puts them back in the front runner’s seat,” says Burns.
But there are some people in Palmer who are worried about what might happen if Mohegan Sun gets that license.
“They laid off over 300 people a few months ago, and they’re having serious financial problems there,” says Emy Shepherd of Quaboag Valley Against Casinos.
Shepherd speculates that instead of bringing in revenue, an in-town casino will tempt Palmer residents to throw their rent and grocery money into slot machines.
Mohegan Sun says a resort-casino would create thousands of jobs and attract gamblers from all over New England.
“In Palmer, we’re going to share the economic developments along a corridor from Worcester to Springfield, and I think that’s a huge impact and I think that’s going to provide for a much greater economic development impact,” says Burns.
Back in 2007, Mohegan Sun was the first company to express an interest in building a casino in Western Massachusetts, long before the expanded gaming legislation was passed last year.
Since then, two projects have also been proposed for Springfield – one by MGM Resorts International, and one by Penn National Gaming.
Last week, Hard Rock International released their proposed plans for a project in West Springfield.
Hard Rock, MGM, and Penn National have all already submitted their applications and fees to the gaming commission.
Any developer interested in building a casino in Massachusetts has until 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to submit their paperwork and fees.