UMass report: Most of state got boost from MGM casino

  • Building the MGM Springfield casino brought financial benefits to all parts of the state, but the benefit grew with proximity. AP PHOTO

Staff Writer
Saturday, September 28, 2019

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts Amherst has released two studies on the economic impact of MGM Springfield, one of which is unambiguously positive.

The reports from the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts research team were presented Thursday to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The team is from the UMass School of Public Health.

The construction impact report says that MGM Springfield spent $573.2 million to build the casino, and that two-thirds of that budget, $373.8 million, went to Massachusetts-based construction firms. It also says that more than two-thirds, 2,963 of 4,249, of the construction workers were state residents.

“Overall, we found that every county in the Commonwealth saw some economic benefit from the construction of MGM Springfield,” lead author Rod Motamedi of the school’s Donahue Institute said in a release from the university. “The economic benefits did ultimately tend to grow with proximity to Springfield.”

The real estate impact report on the casino’s effect on Springfield and surrounding communities is far less definitive. Mark Melnik of the Donahue Institute, who led the economic development component of the research team, said in the same release that the period since the award of casino licenses coincides with strong economic growth in Massachusetts.

“It is difficult to disentangle which real estate trends are attributable to the casino versus other economic trends,” Melnik said.

The study notes an increase in single-family home sales that began shortly before MGM Springfield was awarded its license in 2014, a trend that continued through 2018, although it also notes that this coincided with a broader economic upswing.

The study notes that median gross rents increased in Springfield in the period before and following the awarding of the license. However, median gross rents also increased in surrounding Hampden County and in Hampshire County.