MGM Prepares to Roll the Dice

Gaming In Massachusetts

By Colin A. Young

MGM Springfield, the state’s first resort casino, has been humming with activity in recent days as employees complete dry runs of gaming and entertainment operations ahead of the planned grand opening on Aug. 24.

Michael Mathis, president and chief operating officer of MGM Spring eld, said his team is on the one-yard line and has been running through “test scenarios” this week to prepare for its public launch on Aug. 24. MGM Spring eld will be the first resort casino to open under the state’s 2011 expanded gaming law.

“At this point, we’re ready to open, we’re just trying to fine- tune it and get folks in their full roles,” Mathis told reporters Tuesday. “I can’t wait for the public to see the property and our employees on August 24th.”

Gaming Commission Executive Director Edward Bedrosian said the state will have regulators at MGM Spring eld on Tuesday afternoon to observe a test run of gaming operations and will conduct formal evaluations of MGM’s gaming floor operations before the opening.

“More importantly, the sixteenth and twentieth are two formal evaluation times when we will have people — there will be invited guests — and we will have people there and we will do formal evaluations of how things are going on the floor and have meetings with MGM afterwards to have discussions if there are any issues that need to be corrected,” he said.

Assuming there are no issues with MGM’s floor operations — “And we do assume that,” Bedrosian said — the Gaming Commission is expected to issue MGM Springfield a temporary certificate of operations sometime between the Aug. 20 and Aug. 23.

Bedrosian acknowledged that opening a new casino rarely happens “without some issues and one of the issues that has sort of popped up is some of the signage.”

About an hour of Tuesday’s Gaming Commission meeting was devoted to a discussion of the large digital sign on MGM Spring eld’s parking garage that is visible to drivers on Interstate 91 and whether MGM will be allowed to display moving images on it.

The city of Springfield already agreed to let MGM display moving images on the sign but reserved the right to impose conditions on use of the sign after it has been operational for a while.

The Gaming Commission, though, has the authority to weigh in since it is responsible for issuing the casino’s license to operate, General Counsel Catherine Blue said.

Ultimately, the commission voted unanimously to deny MGM’s request to have moving images on the sign with the caveat that the issue will be revisited about 90 days after the casino opens. In the meantime, Bedrosian instructed MGM to follow standards for outdoor highway advertising, including the eight seconds between movements.

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