It’s the moment of truth: later today, Mayor Domenic Sarno will announce the casino developer, or developers, with whom his administration has negotiated a host-community agreement. (Technically, of course, he could also announce that he’s reached an agreement with neither, although that’s about as likely as a monsoon hitting the city.)
From here, the agreement(s) will go before the City Council for approval, then to city voters. Ultimately, the state’s Gaming Commission will pick the winner of the four proposals seeking the sole casino license to be issued in Western Mass. (Let’s not forget, while Springfield has been ardently pursuing the license, there are two other plans in the mix: Mohegan Sun’s proposal in Palmer and Hard Rock’s in West Springfield.)
So who will advance to the next round? MGM, with its plan for the South End? Penn National’s proposal in the North End? It’s widely expected that only one plan will move forward, meaning there could be a good deal of disappointed folks after Sarno makes his announcement—including a casino company that’s poured buckets of money into advancing its proposal and the various local investors and consultants who’ve attached themselves to the plans. And let’s not forget that the Springfield Republican has a good deal riding on the outcome, too; in a grave conflict of interest, the city’s only daily paper, while covering the casino issue, also stands to profit if the license goes to Penn National, which intends to buy the paper’s property for its casino.
Sarno is due to make his announcement at 11 a.m., so place your bets now. That’s what our old pal the Casino Whisperer has done; last night, I, along with a number of other local reporters, received an email from a writer purporting to be the creator of the anonymous Casino Whispers website, announcing that his or her sources have MGM winning the contest. “Done. Take it to the bank,” Casino Whisperer wrote.