The Massachusetts restaurant industry has called on regulators to prevent the state’s new casino resort from serving alcohol well into the early hours as this could have irreversibly bad impact on established restaurants in the area where the property is located.
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Las Vegas gaming and hospitality giant MGM Resorts International is gearing up for a grand opening of the latest addition to its integrated resort portfolio. The $950-million MGM Springfield is slated to open doors on August 24 and to become Massachusetts’ first full-fledged commercial casino.
Casino officials are seeking permission from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to serve drinks on the gaming floor until 4 am or two hours past state restaurants and bars’ closing time. MGM’s casino floor will be operating around the clock.
MGM Springfield General Manager Alex Dixon has explained that being allowed to serve alcohol past 2 am would provide MGM Springfield’s patrons with the casino experience they would expect once the gaming facility launches.
The official further pointed out that all their bars located outside the gaming floor would close at 2 am, just as any other bar around the state.
The Massachusetts Legislature has previously approved a proposal for the state’s commercial casinos to be allowed to serve drinks until 4 am, as long as they receive approval from the state gambling regulator. The five-member gaming panel is expected to vote on MGM Springfield’s request later this month. The special Springfield City Council Casino Oversight Subcommittee endorsed the request earlier this week.
The Massachusetts restaurant industry has urged the Gaming Commission to reject the casino’s request, citing the impact the extended drink serving hours would have on bars and restaurants in the MGM Springfield area as a reason for considerable concern.
Bob Luz, President of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association said that downtown restaurants and bars owners have already been upset that they might lose customers and their whole businesses to the new gambling venue, and that MGM Springfield’s request has sparked greater concern among them.
According to Mr. Luz, the casino’s ability to offer food and drinks at lower prices, as casinos usually make money from gambling not from food and beverage, would “put a stranglehold” on a number of long-running community businesses.
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As mentioned above, the Casino Oversight Subcommittee approved MGM’s request early this week. Springfield City Councilor and Subcommittee Chair Mike Fenton told local news outlets that extended drink offering hours would bring additional revenue to the city and that they were content with the safeguards proposed by the casino resort.
MGM Springfield has said that it would make sure only gambling customers will be served drinks between 2 am and 4 am. There will also be two bars where patrons will have to be sitting in front of video poker terminals and actively gambling.