MGM Springfield is set to open ahead of schedule on August 24. That’s welcomed news to area officials, but doesn’t put to rest rumors that the casino company isn’t still in active talks to acquire the unfinished Wynn Boston Harbor development.

MGM Springfield opening August

MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis stands in front of the resort’s future south end entrance. (Image: Sarah Crosby/Daily Hampshire Gazette)

MGM Springfield is a $960 million integrated resort (IR) just north of the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. Along with its 125,000-square-foot casino featuring 2,550 slot machines and 120 table games, the property will come with 250 guestrooms, various dining options, retail shopping, convention space, and 8,000-seat theatre.

Company officials credited two relatively mild winters for the resort opening ahead of its September 2018 target.

“MGM Springfield will pay tribute to the city’s legacy … while introducing a stellar array of hospitality and entertainment experiences that will attract guests from New England and beyond,” MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis declared in a statement.

Mathis opined that the property will play a pivotal role in Springfield’s renaissance, and believes the resort will become the region’s “premier entertainment destination.”

Cautious Excitement

Springfield officials are optimistic that MGM Springfield can pave the way for economic prosperity in the years and decades to come. During the 1980s and 1990s, Springfield developed a national reputation for its crime and political corruption.   

MGM Springfield was seen by Massachusetts lawmakers and the state’s Gaming Commission as a lifeline to prosperity for the city.

“I look forward to working with MGM Springfield for many years to come. They’re a world-class company and an outstanding corporate citizen,” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno declared. “I deeply appreciate their belief and investment in our Springfield.”

But rumblings continue that MGM is actively pursuing Wynn Boston Harbor, the unfinished $2.4 billion integrated resort in Everett.

The future of that casino, one of three IR properties authorized in the state, remains in flux as the state Gaming Commission continues to investigate the merits of the company holding a casino license in the wake of the sexual misconduct scandal against its founder Steve Wynn.

Under the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act of 2011, operators are permitted to own majority stakes in only one IR property, meaning MGM Resorts would almost certainly need to divest its interest in Springfield should it acquire Wynn Boston.

Blow to Connecticut Tribes

MGM Springfield opening in August is yet another setback to the two Native American tribes in Connecticut looking to protect their gambling revenue at their Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Sun tribes have been authorized by the state to jointly construct a $300 million satellite casino in East Windsor, Connecticut, just 13 miles south of MGM Springfield. But progress has been severely delayed due to the US Department of the Interior refusing to issue a formal opinion on whether the casino on non-sovereign land jeopardizes their revised gaming compacts.

The East Windsor site was approved to keep critical gaming tax revenue in the state. The tribes originally hoped to have the facility open before MGM Springfield began welcoming guests.

Mohegan Sun Chairman Kevin Brown says the satellite will not open until late 2019, at the earliest.