Analyst gives MGM Resorts edge over Penn National in race for Massachusetts gaming license

17 December 2012

Representatives from Penn National Gaming, Inc. and MGM Resorts International made a pitch last week to residents of Springfield, Mass., as the companies compete for the sole casino license in the western part of the state.

Credit Suisse gaming analyst Joel Simkins attended the town hall-style meeting and came away with the impression that MGM Resorts is the “clear favorite” of Springfield officials.

“Given its high-quality and detailed proposal, track record of building world class resorts, and obvious commitment to support the local community we feel MGM is building a stronger case at this point when compared to Penn,” Simkins told investors.

“We caveat that the process is still early, there will be additional community hearings and we expect Penn to up its game starting with a red carpet event on (Thursday),” Simkins added.

Of the various proposals being floated in Western Massachusetts, Simkins rated Springfield as the most logical location. By Jan. 25, the city is expected to put forward either the MGM Resorts or Penn National location for consideration, but could let the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to explore both proposals.

MGM Resorts is planning an $800 million casino on 10 to 15 acres at Springfield’s south side. Penn National wants to build an $807 million casino on the city's north end.

Massachusetts is not expected to award its gaming licenses until February 2014, almost two-and-a-half years following the enactment of legislation by Gov. Deval Patrick.

“Based on precedent, it is rare that license awards are not eventually met by roadblocks, legal delays, and other issues that slow the process,” Simkins said. He said a casino-resort in Springfield might not open until the last half of 2016.

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