Friday, January 10, 2014 • 1:44 PM Post a Comment

Northampton Worried About Casino Competition

posted by Maureen Turner

Would a Springfield casino affect the entertainment-and-restaurant-heavy downtown of Northampton?

Yes, according to a new report by Camoin Associates. (The consultants prudently left out the “duh” many of us would have added to our response to that question.) According to the report, released by Mayor David Narkewicz, an MGM casino in the South End would deliver a substantial hit to the Northampton economy by siphoning away millions in discretionary spending.

The report offers two scenarios, one assuming a 4 percent decline in “recreational spending” in Northampton due to casino competition and the other assuming an 8 percent drop. In the former case, the report said, Northampton would see a $4.4 million loss in spending, the loss of 90 jobs, $1.6 million less in earnings and a $136,936 drop in tax revenue. In the latter case, well, just double all those figures.

Northampton commissioned the study to support its petition to the Mass Gaming Commission for “surrounding community” status. Under the state’s gaming legislation, casino companies must negotiate mitigation agreements with communities that would be negatively affected by a casino.

In most cases, those deals focus on things like how casino traffic would affect the neighboring town. In Northampton’s case, however, “the City instead anticipates a grave and substantial impact on its finances and local businesses due to the erosion of its status as the sole destination market in the Pioneer Valley, which forms the core and fabric of Northampton’s economy,” according to a letter filed with the MGC by the city’s attorneys, from the Springfield firm of Bacon & Wilson.

The Northampton study and application to the MGC can be found on that city’s website.

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