MGM Springfield Opens First Resort Casino In Massachusetts

Aug 24, 2018

Updated 4:45 p.m.

The first resort casino in Massachusetts opened Friday, a $960 million complex in downtown Springfield with expansive Las Vegas-style gambling and entertainment options.

MGM Springfield hosted festivities Friday to mark the official opening of the casino complex, including a downtown procession with Budweiser Clydesdale horses and other entertainment.

Crowds lined Main Street waiting for a chance to enter the new casino.

Sisters Bernadette Stewart and Mona Dudley of Greenfield arrived at 6:00 a.m. Dudley said they like to play the slots.  

“This is great,” she said. "It's like being a kid and have the circus come to town, you know? Good food, good wine, gambling, people.”

Eddie Krespo of Springfield said he doesn't have much luck, but might play blackjack or roulette once inside. He thinks the casino, with its 3,000 jobs, is a positive development for city and the region. 

"I think it's good for Springfield," he said. "I think it's going to help the economy and it'll get a lot of people here, create a lot of jobs. It's a real boost for the whole western Mass."

Tracy Malley lives in Holyoke.

"We've been here since 6:00 a.m. this morning," she said, adding that she wanted to be part of the opening experience.

Malley had a more nuanced take on the potential impact of MGM. 

"You know, it brought in a lot of jobs, and I hope it does for the city of Springfield what they said it was going to do,” she said. “But you know, I'm a little skeptical. We'll see." 

The 14-acre (5.6-hectare) gambling, hotel, entertainment and retail facility spans three city blocks and is considered the first of its kind for the state.

City officials hailed Friday's opening as a significant step forward in Springfield's economic renewal. The new casino occupies a corner of downtown that was hit hard by a major tornado in 2011.

Directly across the street from the new casino is Tony's Famous Barbershop. Barber Carmine Manzi said construction work at the casino caused a lot of traffic snarls right in front of Tony's, but Manzi wasn’t complaining.

“I love it, yeah, I think it’s going to be really, really good,” he said. “You know, for us, maybe – I hope --  for a lot of businesses. I think it’s going to be really good.”

There's a new salon in the casino, and a few blocks south, Emily Cortes stood outside Meche Beauty Salon. Cortes lives in Holoyoke, but is often at Meche.

“Sometimes I help out,” she said, since her sister owns it. She said she sees the possible benefits of the casino, like jobs and business in the downtown area, but she worries crime might increase.

“There’s going to be money involved, and robbery. Stuff like that,” Cortes said. “It’s going to be awful, I know. I’m afraid of that.”

Next door to the salon, Martin Antonio Valentino was buying scratch tickets and running lottery numbers at Buckeye Brothers Smoke Shop. He's a regular at the coffee and tobacco store that has a number of lottery games.

“I play Keno, I play anything that I can make it,” he said.

Valentino actually used to live where the casino now stands, before a tornado destroyed his apartment building in 2011. He said he'll probably visit the casino from time to time, but it won't replace Buckeye's.

“You go to the casino, you go to Buckeye’s, you go to…  over there. Luck is everywhere, you know?” he said.

Buckeye's owner David Glantz said the casino's opening day didn't hurt sales at all.

"My lottery’s been up today," Glantz said. "You know, people before they’re going to the casino, they’re coming here playing Mega Millions, Powerball, buying scratch tickets."

Glantz said he's never seen this level of foot traffic near his store.

"I mean, MGM brought a ton of people downtown today," he said. "It’s unbelievable, it’ll be great for business. If it keeps up like this, I’ve got no complaints."

Massachusetts legalized casino gambling seven years ago.

A more modest slots parlor has been open south of Boston since 2015 and Wynn Resorts promises to open a $2 billion casino development north of Boston next year.

The Native American tribes that operate Connecticut's Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun resorts also are proposing a Hartford-area casino to directly compete with MGM Springfield.

Alden Bourne and Sean Teehan contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.

Disclosure: MGM has purchased underwriting from New England Public Radio publicizing the company's non-gambling activities. The NEPR newsroom operates independently of the station's development department, and editorial decisions are made without regard to any funding relationships.