BOSTON (AP/WWLP) – MGM Springfield, Wynn Resorts and Penn National; all three casino developers have paid their licensing fee to the state. Now, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has $195 million in its licensing fund.
To be sure, casino payments have been flowing to the state long before the Nov. 4 election, when voters resoundingly rejected a ballot question to repeal the 2011 law. But with voting over, casino cash will start helping fund local improvements in the eastern, western and southeastern regions of the state.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson said his city of nearly 60,000 residents, located just north of Boston, still hasn’t decided what it will do with the $1 million it is set to receive Wednesday from Wynn Resorts, which is building a $1.6 billion resort next door in Everett.
“It’s a pleasant surprise,” he said Tuesday. “Like most cities and towns, we’re boxed in with dwindling revenues and having to create new ones. To have something like this happen is something we’re obviously pleased about because it does not come from our residents.”
Wynn is also expected to make a $300,000 payment to Chelsea soon, and, within the next three months, $200,000 each to Medford and Cambridge. The Las Vegas company previously paid Medford $50,000 and Somerville $150,000. It also paid an $85 million state licensing fee this month and is set to pay Everett $5 million when construction actually starts.
In western Massachusetts, MGM Resorts International says it will make its first payments to Springfield under the host community agreement negotiated for its proposed $800 million development in downtown.
Among the payments expected in the coming weeks is $150,000 toward a public pavilion at Franconia Golf Course and a $1 million community grant to help cover early education initiatives, library improvements, public safety training and more, according to MGM spokeswoman Colleen McGlynn.
MGM must also pay more than $1.5 million by Dec. 6 to eight surrounding cities and towns, under separate financial compensation deals reached with those communities. On Monday, the Las Vegas-based company made a required $85 million payment to the state for its 15-year gambling license.
In southeastern Massachusetts, Penn National Gaming has already started making payments on a $100,000 “community impact” payment to the town of Plainville, where work is well underway at the company’s $225 million slot parlor expansion at the Plainridge harness racing track.
The development is expected to open around June 2015, meaning larger annual payments will also come due, such as a $2.7 million annual payment to Plainville required upon opening, according to project general manager Lance George. The Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based company has also paid its $25 million state licensing fee, the proceeds of which are divvied up into a range of public funds including health care reform, higher education, transportation projects and local city and town aid.
The three casino companies have already paid an annual assessment toward the operating budget of the state Gaming Commission, which was created to license and regulate the casino industry. That fee is worth $600 per slot machine expected to be in operation at their facilities and totaled $1.8 million for MGM, $1.5 million for Wynn and $750,000 for Penn National Gaming.
The companies must also pay an “annual commission assessment” that’s meant to help cover the commission’s budget shortfalls until its revenues ramp up. The commission says it has collected nearly $9 million of a projected $21 million assessment: $4.8 million from Wynn, $3.2 million from MGM and $1 million from Penn National Gaming.
And each casino company — along with all others that sought a state gambling license — had to pay an initial $400,000 application fee.