Hard Rock casino vote wrapup - KCTV5

Hard Rock casino vote wrapup

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

With a 10 percent margin, West Springfield voters rejected Hard Rock's $800 million casino proposal 55 percent to 45 percent Tuesday night.

After the results there were celebrations at the anti-casino camp and the president of No Casino West Springfield said he couldn't be happier with the decision.

"We firmly stood for what we believed in and that matters," said Nathan Bech, president of No Casino West Springfield. "This is our town and we kept this gambling out of our town."

Hard Rock's president says he respects the town's decision that they do not want a casino in their community.

"We tried to tell them this is more than just a casino, but I think the casino aspect of it is something they don't want in West Springfield," said Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland.

Over in the neighboring town of Agawam, City Councilor George Bitzas had formed a resolution opposing the casino. Wednesday he said he's thankful for the votes' outcome.

"I think it was a wise choice and it was very good for the town of Agawam," said Bitzas.

And officials in the two other communities competing to build a casino in Western Mass are clearly happy that the competition has now dwindled.

Palmer Town Councilor Paul Burns released a statement referring to the direct competition now between MGM and Mohegan Sun. That statement reads:

"The voters of West Springfield have spoken and for better or worse have decided that a resort casino is not in the best interest of their community. Tonight's results set up a direct competition between Springfield and Palmer for the sole Western Mass license With these results the choice could not be more clear and the only choice can be Mohegan Sun's Palmer proposal. This is the strongest Western Mass proposal providing the largest developable area and the greatest ancillary development opportunity."

Springfield's City Council President James Ferrera says there's still a long way to go until the gaming commission makes their final decision.

"We have to continue to work hard with the surrounding communities because ultimately this is a regional casino," said Ferrera.

An MGM Springfield spokeswoman had this to say about the vote:

"MGM Resorts feels strongly that our unique world-class urban proposal is the best economic driver for the region. We came into this process knowing we had to set a very high bar because of the caliber of competitors. Competition makes us all better; and MGM has had its fair share throughout the municipal and state processes. Today, just as we were 18 months ago, we remain focused on working with the City of Springfield and its neighboring communities to ensure that MGM Springfield is the Massachusetts Gaming Commission's choice for Western Massachusetts."

And, the CEO of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority Mitchell Etess had this to say about the decision in West Springfield:

"Mohegan Sun Massachusetts is excited about the upcoming referendum vote and the tremendous support we've received from Palmer. Last week we signed a Host Community Agreement that illustrates our strong commitment to the community and that includes the largest per capita investment of any western Mass. proposal. We are confident that our nearly $1 billion resort casino proposal, which will bring thousands of new jobs and economic development to Palmer and the region, represents the best choice for Western Massachusetts."

Residents in Springfield have already approved MGM's proposal while residents in Palmer will head to the polls in November to vote on Mohegan Sun's proposal.

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