The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted in favor of the new MGM Springfield resort casino serving alcohol until 4 a.m. Now, Connecticut gaming tribes are asking local lawmakers to give its nearby casinos the same rights.
The commission voted 4-1 Thursday to allow MGM Springfield to serve drinks two hours past the traditional last call.
Springfield City Council approved the proposal in early June. The extended serving hours will only be available to gamblers on the casino floor. MGM Springfield restaurants and bars will still observe the traditional 2 a.m. last call for alcohol.
Drinks will go in different cups after 2 a.m. Plus, alcohol sales will be prohibited from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
The commission also attached conditions that will see it undertake a review of alcohol service 90 days after the casino opens. Plus, the commission will now have authority to suspend MGM Springfield’s liquor license.
The newest commissioner on the board, Eileen O’Brien, was the only one to vote against the proposal, stating public safety concerns:
“With people gaming into the night with continued alcohol access, on balance, I am just not convinced that it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth.”
However, the rest of the commission felt cautiously optimistic MGM will implement safeguards, including discouraging people from flocking to the casino for drinks after other area bars close. Plus, preventing gamblers from drinking and driving.
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MGM Springfield versus Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun
The $950 million MGM Springfield will open August 24. The property is just 70 miles from both Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket and Mohegan Sun Casino in Montville, Connecticut.
Extended alcohol serving hours at MGM Springfield has the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe asking Connecticut to give Foxwoods the same rights.
Lori Potter, director of communications for the tribe, told the Eastern Connecticut daily newspaper The Day tribal officials have previously tried to get Connecticut lawmakers on board with later alcohol service. This is part of an effort to increase slot revenue, the 25 percent of slot revenues it pays to the state, and state sales taxes.
Now, they just want to be able to operate on a level playing field with the casino’s newest competitor:
“Now that the state’s direct competition has extended their hours, it only makes sense for us at minimum to do the same, if not implement even longer service hours to remain competitive. We have to stay competitive. If other states are going to have more relaxed laws to serve alcohol later, we’re going to have to do the same.”
Last call for alcohol in Connecticut is 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Mohegan Sun chief of staff Chuck Bunnell agreed extending serving hours in Connecticut should be discussed.
East Windsor satellite casino and MGM Bridgeport
The tribes have also banded together to propose the construction of a $300 million satellite casino in East Windsor, Connecticut. To compete with MGM’s new property, construction is set to go forward just 12 miles south of Springfield
State lawmakers have approved the project, but it still requires federal approval.
For its part, MGM is still pushing plans to build a $675 million casino resort in Bridgeport, Connecticut. That project still requires state lawmakers to approve legislation allowing the Connecticut legislature to consider commercial casino proposals for the first time.