Gaming commission votes against the “Big E”

Artist's rendering of the proposed MGM Springfield casino, including the now-abandoned plan for a 25-story glass tower on State Street. The elimination of the glass tower is part of what the city council has to vote on.

BOSTON (WWLP) –  After a long and at times contentious debate, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission did not name the Eastern States Exposition an Impacted Live Entertainment Venue.  There were conditions with that decision.

MGM has agreed to a 17 day blackout during “The Big E” and the commission said it will likely make that a condition of MGM’s license, if awarded.

The gaming commission believes it could revisit the Eastern States Exposition’s petition if they do eventually see negative impacts from the casino during the fair.

Consultants for the Gaming Commission did not recommend the Eastern States Exposition as an Impacted Live Entertainment Venue because MGM has committed not to have any entertainment during the “The Big E.”  Their reasoning was that the Eastern States Exposition only qualified as an ILEV during the fair.

The gaming commission did not make a ruling at its meeting on February 18th, giving both parties an extra week of negotiating.  Both MGM and Eastern State Exposition members did communicate and exchange offers over the weekend, but could not reach a deal.

MGM still has to reach surrounding community agreements with Longmeadow and West Springfield before it could be awarded a license.  An arbitration period will begin in the middle of March if a deal cannot be reached before then.

The gaming commission still believes it will decide if MGM will be awarded the Western Massachusetts gaming license sometime in May.  A surrounding community hearing is scheduled for March 3rd in West Springfield.   A host community hearing is scheduled in Springfield for April 1st, according to ombudsman John Ziemba.  A license can be awarded 30 days after the final host community hearing.

The Eastern Massachusetts license now may not be awarded until June 30th.  The commission pushed the date back since a conflict arose between a consultant that was working with both the commission and Mohegan Sun.  This was a known and addressed issue, but the consultant didn’t terminate its contract with Mohegan Sun, which was a condition of it working with the commission.  The commission terminated its contract with the company on Monday.  The consultant had worked with the commission to address surrounding community concerns in Eastern Massachusetts.  That work will have to be redone before surrounding community determinations in Eastern Massachusetts will be made.

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