As the Connecticut General Assembly awaits its next session in January to weigh gaming expansion in the state, the countdown is underway for the opening of MGM’s $960 million resort casino in Springfield, Massachusetts that includes the hiring of 3,000 resort employees. The opening is scheduled for August 24.
“Overall, MGM Springfield is on track to meet its overall hiring goals of approximately 3,000 employees, 35% city residents, no more than 10% from outside the region, as well as the goals for minorities, women and veterans,” said Marikate Murren, MGM Springfield’s vice president of human resources, in a report to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The hiring outreach effort has included multiple job fairs.
MGM reports the employee breakdown covers 2,228 full-time workers, 506 part-time workers, and 266 on-call workers in addition to 100 to 150 vendor employees at the casino, and another 125 employees at the MGM-operated MassMutual Center nearby.
Among the more than 600 employees actively working in advance of the opening, 35.8 percent are Springfield residents meeting the project goal of 35 percent Springfield hires. The majority come from western Massacusetts.
Women make up roughly 41 percent of the work force, minorities about 44 percent. Fifty percent is the “best efforts” goal in each area.
As noted in this report Jill Griffin, the Gaming Commission’s director of workforce, supplier, and diversity development, said she is “very impressed” by MGM’s hiring outreach efforts and its staff’s availability in the community.
“MGM Springfield has been everywhere,” Griffin said.
One of the driving forces of MGM’s interest in Bridgeport is Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren who has deep roots in the city. His mother is a Bridgeport resident.
MGM has proposed a $675 million waterfront gaming destination for the Steelpointe Harbor redevelopment area that currently includes Bass Pro Shops as the anchor tenant. MGM officials see Bridgeport’s geography as a key destination for Fairfield and New Haven counties as well as New York.
MGM’s Bridgeport proposal calls for a minimum $8 million annual host fee payment in addition to other revenues such as taxes and building permit fees it will generate.
The gaming proposal requires state legislative approval. Connecticut’s current gaming policy operates under a monopoly with the state’s two tribal nations that operate Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The state receives 25 percent of the slot take in exchange for granting exclusivity. Critics of the gaming monopoly assert the state is leaving millions of dollars on the table. MGM’s proposal calls for an open, competitive process to choose a gaming operator in Bridgeport. Some state legislators want to stick with the exclusivity compact with the tribal nations while others maintain the process must be opened up to determine the best deal for the state.
MGM announced its recent purchase of Empire City Casino and Yonkers Raceway in New York does not impact its commitment to building a waterfront destination in Bridgeport.