SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield city leaders will get to defend their actions in choosing their casino consulting firm in front of the state gaming commission on Tuesday.
The 22News I-Team discovers if the city is gambling with it's casino chances.
From a legal standpoint, Springfield appears to be in the clear, but the perception of a conflict of interest has already slowed down the cities plans to move forward.
With Springfield's casino search on hold, city leaders are preparing to meet with the state's gaming commission. The issue is full disclosure. The consulting firm the city hired to help with its casino process has represented MGM and Penn National casinos. That was news to Ameristar and Hard Rock. All four developers have expressed interest in building a casino in Springfield. Attorney Dave Crevier told 22News it's hard to tell whether or not the firm can be unbiased.
"As you know some people are more able to put their conflicts to the side than other people", says Crevier, attorney for Crevier & Ryan, LLP.
The state gaming commission suspended Springfield's casino search for a week. Ameristar Casino's Troy Stremming told 22News the solution is simple, hire a new consultant.
"When there are hundreds of consulting firms around the United States, many of which do gaming work and some that exclusively do gaming work I would think that with a little work we could find a consultant in this situation that has not worked with any of the applicants", says Stremming.
Gaming commission chairman Stephen Crosby told 22News, they have some concerns about Springfield's process, but they won't make any decisions until they meet with city leaders. Crevier says just the appearance of a conflict of interest does matter.
"It may or may not affect their determination to feel as though the person who is representing the city of Springfield has interests with some of the operators that may create a conflict of interest, I'm not sure how they'll relate to that", says Crevier.
Springfield communications director Tom Walsh told 22News the city plans to send the consultants, Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy, City Solicitor Ed Pikula and possibly Mayor Sarno to the gaming commission meeting in Boston on Tuesday.