Voters in Springfield Approve Casino - NBC Connecticut

Voters in Springfield Approve Casino

Voters in Springfield approve $800 million project



    Voters in Springfield Approve Casino

    Voters in Springfield, Mass. approved an $800 million casino project by MGM. That project will likely have a big impact on Connecticut's two casinos.

    70 miles away there is great interest in that vote.
    "It will hurt us tremendously at least for the first year," Ken Zachem, a Preston package store owner, said. 
    Zachem's store is just down the road from Foxwoods Casino. He said if the Springfield plan is approved it will have a big impact on business.
    "I feel if Springfield or any place in Massachusetts picks up another casino like we have here we're going to lose 50 percent of our patrons off the top," he said.
    Revenues at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are down and have been trending that way for some time according to state officials.
    "Gaming revenues tend to be volatile and competition is growing, which is why Connecticut must maintain its focus on developing a diverse economic development strategy, particularly in Eastern Connecticut, so that we don't become heavily reliant on any one revenue or employment source," Kevin Lembo, the state comptroller, said in a statement.
    A Springfield casino could draw even more people away considering its close proximity to Hartford.
    If you drive from Hartford to Springfield it's 26.6 miles. A drive from Hartford to Mohegan is 45.8 miles and to Foxwoods it's 49.2 miles.
    "I think it could have a short term impact on the casinos down there," Sen. Cathy Osten said.
    Osten believes that the casinos will adapt to the changing environment but she said Southeast Connecticut just can't rely on casino jobs alone especially when the unemployment rate is still around 9 percent there.
    "I would actually like to see us get more jobs that are off the casino property that are not service industry jobs," Sen. Osten said.
    Both Foxwoods and Mohegan officials did not have a comment on the vote.