What's next in the Western MA casino process? - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

What's next in the Western MA casino process?

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Tuesday voters in Springfield approved MGM's casino proposal 58 percent to 42 percent. And, though that is a major step forward for the company, it is only one step towards potentially being awarded the sole casino license to be granted in Western Massachusetts.

MGM announced Wednesday that they would shift their focus to a campaign targeting all of Western Mass.

"The approval is only the next step in the process and there are more going on," said MA Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby. "We still haven't finished the background checks for MGM, which is the applicant here in Springfield. We haven't finished the background checks for Palmer or West Springfield either."

Crosby sat down with CBS 3 earlier this week to detail where the casino process stands and what's next.

"Eventually the city and the applicants will bring the proposal to us and that's called phase two of the application process. That's due to us by Dec. 31," Crosby said.

Now Mohegan Sun in Palmer and Hard Rock International in West Springfield are also competing for the lone casino license to be granted in the region.

West Springfield's host community agreement has been signed by the town's mayor and casino officials. The company is hoping to hold their casino referendum in early September before the Big E fair begins. Mohegan Sun still needs to complete their host agreement to get approval and to hold a vote. If voters in either community strike down the proposals, that company is out of the competition. If they are approved they will move forward in the process.

"We will then be using all of our evaluation criteria to determine which of the proposal that are approved by the referendum is the best," Crosby said.

The gaming commission will be reviewing each proposal based on five categories: Community mitigation, revenue and finance, economic developments, site building design and the "wow" factor.

And in terms of those who don't want a casino, Crosby said they will still have the chance to get their opinions across before a final decision is made.

"In the application process the second phase there will be at least two further public hearings and we will be continuing to look for feedback, community organizations that take positions pro or con," Crosby said.

The hope is to have a final decision from the gaming commission by April.

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