On Sunday, Springfield attorney Paul Nicolai joined citizens against casino gambling, saying that the proposed MGM plan doesn’t provide any relief for taxpayers. “The base number for taxes is $17.6 million. That number is fixed in the contract for 40 years. The only thing that changes is that the number goes up by 2 1/2 percent,” he said.
Nicolai and the group claim that MGM isn’t paying any property taxes, and that the casino is only worth $451 million, not the $800 million Mayor Domenic Sarno stated that the project was worth.
In a letter, Mayor Sarno’s office disputes that, pointing out that in the host agreement, MGM’s site is currently generating more than $600,000 tax dollars for the city and that total payments under that agreement will total more than $960 million. “The one thing the city can ensure is that the taxes go down. There’s no doubt in my mind that should be an outcome of this,” city councilor Tom Ashe said. “I don’t understand the tax issue. This issue got voted down in 1994, 1995, and this issue got voted down on many different levels, if you say no then what’s your yes plan?” asked MGM’s VP of Global Gaming Development Michael Mathis.
The newly released New England Casino Gaming Update finds that Bay Staters out-visited and outspent Rhode Islanders at their own Twin River Casinos last year, to the tune of $30 million dollars.
Even if one is built in Springfield, some say the casinos might do more social harm than good. “I think it’s really assumed that all Latinos and African Americans are for the casinos, and we are not,” Linda Cuevas said. “How many blacks and Latinos are going to get the jobs based on the policy? You have to pass CORI and credit checks. That wipes out a whole segment of my community,” stated Minister Turpin.
Folks also expressed their concern about health issues that the casino could bring, like possible gambling addictions.
Ashe added that some of the revenue from it should fund addiction programs, crime prevention and better educational programs.
In the meantime, MGM says their offices will be staffed around the clock calling people ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
We’ll have all of your coverage for the casino vote Tuesday, get the results and details on-air and here on our website.