GRANTVILLE, Pa. (WWLP) - Springfield is working to narrow down the three proposals for developing a casino in the city, and 22News is working for you with an in-depth look at each company.
We traveled to down to Pennsylvania to visit Penn National Gaming's headquarters, and then one of its casinos located between Harrisburg and Hershey, to get an inside look at the company that wants to build in Springfield's North End.
In an interview with 22News reporter Ryan Walsh, Penn National Chief Operating Officer Tim Wilmott answered questions about everything from Penn National's interest in Springfield, to what kinds of jobs they would be able to bring-in for local people, and who their local partners are.
(Springfield has about a 12% unemployment rate. What kind of success does Penn National of those people being from the area or Massachusetts as opposed to people moving into the area for those jobs?)
"We have a lot of experience with this Ryan. In 2012 we just opened up three properties. Overall 90% of all the jobs have been hired locally", says Wilmott.
(Peter Picknelly has been if not the, than one of the biggest contributors to the Mayor's campaign over the past few years.)
"We know Peter was a very prominent businessman in Springfield. We know he had a site that we liked. We honestly didn't know initially about his connection with the mayor", says Wilmott.
(A story we just did, we were talking with the Secretary of Transportation about the Interstate 91 Viaduct. A 2.5 mile stretch of highway that runs right next to where your proposed casino would be. Nothing has been decided yet, but something will have to be done. Is that Viaduct anything that you've addressed in any of your preliminary plans with the city.)
"We have not addressed that specific potential development of that road system there. It's difficult to predict the timing of it, the extent of it, then once we know those definitive pieces of information then we can assess the impact on the development", says Wilmott.
Wilmott said that they don't have a problem paying the required $400,000 fee the state requires to apply for a casino license.
"We don't have any hesitation with that at all, we have a balance sheet that is very, very strong and we have a very sincere interest in pursuing this western Massachusetts, license and we don't see that that's a big hurdle for us right now," Wilmott said.
Four companies have plans to develop a casino in western Massachusetts. In addition to Penn National in the North End of Springfield, MGM wants to develop a site in the South End, and Ameristar wants to construct a casino on the former Westinghouse property on Page Boulevard in East Springfield. Outside the city, Mohegan Sun wants to build on land they own just off Mass Pike Exit 8 in Palmer.