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Gaming Comm. Discusses W. Springfield, Longmeadow Arbitration Decisions

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BOSTON (WGGB) — The Mass. Gaming Commission met Friday to discuss surrounding community agreements ruled on by arbitrators for the towns of Longmeadow and West Springfield.

As part of the casino licensing process, companies looking to open a facility need not only an agreement with their host community, but agreements with surrounding communities that may be impacted by a casino.

MGM Springfield had reached surrounding agreements with several area cities and towns, but Longmeadow and West Springfield could not come to terms on their own and went to arbitration.

Earlier this week, two separate arbitration panels ruled in favor of both communities.

While the arbitration ruling cannot be appealed, on Friday, the Gaming Commission heard objections from MGM as it related to what the commission called “fundamental inconsistencies” in the newly-forged agreements.

With regards to Longmeadow, the commissioned denied most of MGM’s objections, with the exception of the amount the arbitrator set as legal and consulting fees.

The commission will modify the language in that agreement to require that Longmeadow officials present paperwork evidencing “reasonable legal and consulting fees.”

With regards to West Springfield, the commission denied all of MGM’s objections.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby says the commission was satisfied with the work of the three member arbitration panel.

“We just need to double check and make sure there’s nothing in the final agreement that we believe is fundamentally inconsistent with the intent of the law and for the very most part that is what we determined,” says Crosby.

MGM says it’s a little disappointed by the gaming commission’s vote, but is okay with airing the issue.

“We’re fairly happy with the discussion and the resolution, even though it wasn’t quite perfect in our minds,” says Michael Mathis, President of MGM Springfield.

Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane also attended the meeting and was pleased with the way things turned out.

“This was the outcome we were hoping for today. The arbitration panel affirmed our position and the gaming commission in its final step basically said the town’s best and final offer was in fact consistent with the Gaming Act,” says Crane.

The Gaming Commission says it could vote on awarding the Springfield casino license to MGM on June 13.

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