PALMER, Mass. (WWLP) - Mohegan Sun passed the Gaming Commissions' extensive background check, but it still needs Palmer voters' approval to continue to be eligible for the sole western Massachusetts gambling license.
In about a month, on November 5th, Palmer voters will vote on the special casino referendum, and Thursday night Palmer residents, who want the casino, gathered at the Crossroad Pavilion to rally for “Yes” votes.
Casino supporters believe Mohegan's resort casino will bring a much needed economic development to the town.
Town Councilors and community leaders spoke about the economic benefits of a resort casino.
In the host agreement Palmer signed with Mohegan Sun, the developer promised make an annual payment of 16 million dollars for mitigation costs and nearly 3 million in upfront payments even before a casino is built.
Residents will need to approve that host agreement before Mohegan can continue competing for the sole western Massachusetts gambling license.
Casino supporters told 22News those mitigation payments can be used to improve their town's emergency services.
“Probably the roads, improvements to the town, and maybe improvements to the schools; its wide open. Improvements and the money for fire departments,” said Billy Byrnes of Palmer.
However, some people living in neighboring towns told 22News even though they don't have a say in the Palmer casino question, they are still concerned about some negative impacts.
“It's traffic. Route 9 in West Brookfield will become very busy and the traffic will increase. It'll cause all sorts of trouble,” said Jack Tivnan of West Brookfield.
The casino referendum will be held on November 5th.
If the majority of Palmer voters approve the referendum, Mohegan Sun will continue to compete for the license. If not, they'll have to withdraw their application.