Estess tells local businesses to not be concerned with recent layoffs
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/15/2012 -- A battle of sorts between rural and urban has begun to rise in Palmer Massachusetts. A local casino man is pitted against slick St. Louis and Las Vegas men who have begun to survey the scene.
Mitchell Etess, who is the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authorities chief executive office, drew such battle lines when discussing the competition that has begun to culminate in western Massachusetts for casino licensing.
Etess addressed the Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce at a high school, where he stated he believes he knows who is best suited to save the Bay State that includes Springfield and Worcester, with rural communities sprinkled in between.
"We're here; we've been here," said Etess. Adding, "We know what New Englanders want in a casino and we know how to give it to them."
Etess said the Mohegan Sun and "Brand X down the road," which would be Foxwoods Resort Casino, are the standard-bearers of the "rural destination model" for casinos. The Mohegan authority would duplicate such efforts on a small scale if Palmer is able to achieve his license the Gaming Commission is expected to award to the western section.
Springfield appears to be the center of the competition. It is the state’s third-largest city, and as many as four individuals suitors have been looking to set their own Casino into the area. Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International provided a detailed plan with an over three-quarters of a million dollar plan. The company also paid an application fee and opened an office in downtown Springfield.
Ameristar Casinos has also attempted to put their foot in the door. The Hard Rock International of Orlando, Florida, has also expressed direct interest in a possible casino in the area.
"Most people in New England are unfamiliar with urban casinos," Etess said. "If you ask them what a casino looks like in Detroit or Gary, Indiana, they don't know. Mohegan Sun has changed the way people think of casinos. ... What people (in the industry) have come to understand is that what people are going to like in New England is rural."
Etess brushed off negative perception from other small business owners. He stated that the state had already approved expanding gambling, which would lead to jobs and economic development improvements. “The Palmer site will drive the most revenue to the entire western Massachusetts region,” he said.
One local owner asked how the Mohegan could be so proactive in the issue when it is laying off workers at the Sun. Etess responded that the 300 layoffs announced in September were not a “red flag” and given the current size of the company, the firings were a product of circumstances.
The long-standing commitment to the Palmer Project by the Authority is part of the reason why it has not had to pay the $400,000 license-application fee before next year, Estess said.
"If I had been in one community and moved to another community, I'd probably pay the fee to show my commitment," he said, a reference to MGM Resorts, which has abandoned a casino project it had proposed earlier this year in Brimfield, a small town adjacent to Palmer, before unveiling its Springfield plan in August. The company deemed the Brimfield site unsuitable.
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