PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) - Voters in Palmer will decide Tuesday whether or not they approve of a Mohegan Sun casino in their town, and while the last-minute campaigning is on, a Springfield-based civil rights organization has some questions for the casino company.
The NAACP of Greater Springfield recently sent a letter to Mohegan Sun Vice President of Development Paul Brody, asking that he address some of their concerns. Specifically, the NAACP wants to know whether Mohegan Sun plans to provide job opportunities to people of color, whether or not they will exclude potential employees that have a CORI, whether they’re working to provide public transit into Palmer, whether they’ll provide housing assistance for employees moving into town, and whether they’ll provide English as a second language (ESL) programs for their workers.
For its part, Mohegan Sun noted that the president of the NAACP of Greater Springfield, Rev. Talbert Swan, is supporting MGM's rival proposal for a casino in Springfield, and in a statement sent to 22News, Chuck Bunnell, the Mohegan Tribe's Chief of Staff for External and Government Affairs said that they have a commitment to diversity.
"In a previous meeting with the Rev. Swan, he communicated his support for the MGM project in Springfield. We are not engaging with our competitors or their supporters as we continue to work with the residents of Palmer in advance of our November 5 referendum vote. Mohegan Sun is proud of its longstanding commitment to diversity in hiring. We look forward to future discussions with interested parties throughout the region," Bunnell said.
Mohegan Sun is competing with MGM Springfield for the sole casino license in western Massachusetts. Both projects have currently cleared different required steps on the way to final approval. Mohegan Sun has cleared the state’s background check process, which MGM has yet to do. The Springfield proposal, meanwhile, was already given the approval of city voters during a referendum vote back in July.
The ultimate decision as to where a casino will be located will be made by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. That decision is expected in the coming spring.