MGM Resorts International, which hopes to build an $800 million gambling and entertainment complex in Springfield, became the first company in Massachusetts to file a final resort casino application with state regulators.
Two copies of the application, more than 7,000 pages in length, were submitted to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the company said, one day ahead of the panel’s deadline.
MGM is the only applicant seeking the sole western Massachusetts resort casino license.
“For nearly two years, we have worked very hard to prove our project worthy of this opportunity,” said Michael Mathis, MGM’s vice president of global gaming development, in a statement. “We believe we are submitting a thoughtful and comprehensive application that will exceed the MGC’s expectations.”
The company filed its initial application in January and later cleared the two major hurdles set by the commission. In July, the casino project won a favorable vote of Springfield residents in a referendum, and earlier this month MGM was issued a favorable suitability ruling after a background check by the commission’s investigative arm.
Two companies, Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts, were expected to formally apply before Tuesday’s deadline for the only eastern Massachusetts license.
Mohegan Sun has proposed a $1 billion resort casino in Revere, subject to a vote by residents of the city Feb. 25.
Wynn has proposed a $1.2 billion casino along the Mystic River in Everett. Voters in that city approved of the plan in June.
The commission plans to conduct a rigorous review of casino applications, including public hearings, before issuing its licensing decisions, most likely in late May or June.
In another casino-related development Monday, the leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah said it wanted a dispute over its gambling rights settled in the federal courts, not the state courts.
The Martha’s Vineyard-based Aquinnah announced last month it had received the necessary approval from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to open a small tribal casino on the island. But the state of Massachusetts contends that the tribe gave up its gambling rights in a 1980s settlement that secured tribal lands on the island.
Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Judicial Court this month seeking to block the tribe from moving ahead with its plans to convert a small community center into a gambling facility.
The Aquinnah disputes that it expressly gave up its gambling rights in the land settlement and on Monday, the tribe announced it had filed paperwork asking that the legal case be moved from state to federal court.
“Our tribe has consistently maintained that we enjoy rights to game under federal law,” said Aquinnah chairman-elect Tobias Vanderhoop, in a statement. “Federal court is the appropriate venue for this case to be heard and the Tribe will vigorously defend our rights.”
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