SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The state Gaming Commission has concerns over Springfield's process to choose a casino developer, and also what looks has the possible appearance of a conflict of interest with the city's casino consulting firm.
Springfield's mayor Sarno and other city leaders faced some tough questions from the State Gaming Commission Tuesday during their meeting at Springfield Technical Community College. The Gaming Commission says the city's gone too far too soon, and wants them to slow down.
But the mayor says Springfield needs this opportunity and they need it sooner rather than later.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is concerned about how quickly the city of Springfield is moving forward in narrowing down the competing casino companies. State Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby told 22News at this rate, the mayor will establish an agreement with a vendor before the commission has time to determine what the parameters of that agreement should be.
"There's a time conflict. The schedule he's on doesn't really fit well with our schedule, particularly because we won't have done the background checks on the companies he will be negotiating with," Crosby said.
But the mayor says he can't slow down. Developers have purchased property, some of which is tornado-damaged land that the mayor wants rebuilt.
Casino supporters might agree with the mayor, that this economic development is just what the city needs. But some critics say the city should focus on tornado recovery, before bringing in a casino which will create even more problems.
"Put the casino on the back burner. I think it's more of a liability as far as people being able to drink and come out into the community, when you have homes that are still damaged and haven't been rebuilt," said Erica Baymon of Springfield.
Gaming commissioners said they will further discuss Springfield's process at their meeting next week. As for the appearance of a conflict of interest, the case is now with the state's ethics commission… but the consultant has agreed to make that decision public when it is decided.