Outlook 2021: The story of MGM Springfield ‘remains early in writing’ (Guest viewpoint)

MGM Springfield stands hand in hand with the Springfield community, our local partners, team members, and guests during this time of unprecedented challenges. As we turn the page, we approach the future with optimism. The Foundation is Strong: Often the way forward begins with a look back. Prior to the pandemic, MGM Springfield was actively learning a new market and incorporating customer feedback and preferences into our resort experience. These are natural steps for a new property in a new market.

The property team focused on driving out-of-state gaming revenue, providing good jobs to local residents and generating new spending and investment beyond our resort. An economic impact report released in November by the University of Massachusetts demonstrates the true success of that effort.

In our first year of operations, 40% of our visitors came from out of state and 72% of gambling spending and 61.7% of non-gaming spending at our resort was new to Massachusetts. In total, MGM Springfield generated $101.5 million in tax payments to support everything from local aid and public safety to economic development and transportation. MGM Springfield has driven new customers to other local businesses as well, with 60% of off-site patron spending new to Massachusetts.

This economic engine helped jumpstart the redevelopment of downtown Springfield. It began with our nearly $1 billion investment, the largest private investment in the city’s history and continues today. The transformation of our site helped unlock the potential of the surrounding area, including 31 Elm Street, the new MassMutual Center garage, the new CVS on Main Street and Wahlburgers – all projects either directly, or indirectly supported by MGM Springfield.

New development brought new jobs and opportunities for local residents. When we opened in 2018, we directly employed more than 3,000 team members. In our first year of operations alone, a UMass study found that we created a total statewide economic impact of 6,287 net jobs and $356.9 million in personal income. The team members of MGM Springfield reflect our company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we are proud of the thousands of good-paying jobs we created for the residents of Springfield and western Massachusetts.

Refining the Economic Engine: The last year has been unquestionably difficult for our team members, our guests and our communities, but we remain resilient and committed. We have learned as we have moved through the chapters of this crisis and we have innovated – perhaps, more than we might have during normal operating conditions.

We will build upon these learnings as we continue to see restrictions ease in the coming year and are safely able to introduce new entertainment, table games, slot offerings and other types of amenities that bring guests to our resorts and economic vitality to Springfield.

Critical to building upon this positive momentum will be legalized sports betting in Massachusetts. Sports betting is an amenity that Bay Staters have been requesting since the US Supreme Court overturned the federal prohibition in 2018. Twenty-two states plus Washington D.C. have already legalized sports wagering. Our neighbors in Connecticut will soon follow suit.

Massachusetts residents are already driving across the border to place bets, or simply doing so illegally at home from a black-market app or website. Legalizing and properly regulating this market will protect consumers, ensure strong responsible gaming protocols, generate an estimated $50 million in direct, annual tax revenue to the commonwealth and help create and support many well-paying Massachusetts jobs at MGM Springfield. As the new legislative session begins in earnest, we look forward to working with the Baker Administration and the Legislature to bring sports betting to the citizens of the commonwealth and the associated revenue to its coffers.

The MGM Springfield story remains early in the writing. Throughout the journey, our foundation has been strengthened by the amazing hard work and dedication of our team members. I am proud of their effort and grateful for their shared commitment to our community.

On behalf of our entire MGM Springfield team, we look forward to tomorrow and the privilege of hosting you all again soon.

Chris Kelley is president of MGM Resorts’ Northeast Group, including MGM Springfield. To learn more about MGM Springfield, go online to mgmspringfield.mgmresorts.com.