U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 11 mins

MGM: Casino push expanding to WMass region

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- After winning the support of a majority of Springfield voters, MGM Resorts International said Wednesday it was expanding the scope of its casino campaign to include the rest of the western Massachusetts region.

In a statement, the company said it was reaching out to municipal leaders in surrounding communities in an effort to convince them its proposed $800 million resort casino in downtown Springfield would be good for the region as a whole.

"We have no doubt that Springfield and MGM together are the best choice for Western Massachusetts," MGM president and chief marketing officer Bill Hornbuckle said in statement.

By a 58 percent to 42 percent margin, voters in Springfield on Tuesday backed a host community agreement between the company and city officials. Voter approval of the referendum was a prerequisite for MGM to apply to the state's gambling commission for the sole western Massachusetts resort casino license available under the state's expanded gambling law.

MGM could face competition for the regional license from two other firms.

Mohegan Sun has proposed a casino in Palmer and Hard Rock has a plan for a facility at the Eastern States Exhibition in the city of West Springfield. Both communities are expected to hold referendums in September.

Paul Burns, a town councilor in Palmer, congratulated MGM on its win in the Springfield voting but said in a statement that Mohegan Sun's plan would provide a superior economic benefit to the region.

While MGM's proposal would encompass about 15 acres in Springfield, Burns said Mohegan Sun's casino plan calls for developing up to 300 acres, including a retail complex, second hotel and water park.