SPRINGFIELD (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) MGM's partnership with a controversial overseas business is being called into question as the organization rolls out plans for putting up a resort-style casino in Springfield.
MGM says it wants to inject new life into downtown Springfield, which was one of several Western Mass. communities devastated by tornadoes in 2011. The casino operator wants to put up a casino worth $800 million on three city blocks.
The casino would boast a hotel, outdoor theater, and apartments for young professionals. It would also bring thousands of jobs to the state.
Just a few years ago, the company had to leave New Jersey because of a controversial overseas business partner with alleged ties to organized crime. MGM runs a casino in Macau with a company that is alleged to have ties to Asian organized crime. The relationship is laid out in an in-depth 2009 investigation by gaming officials.
The report called the owner of the Macau company "unsuitable," and recommended that MGM sever ties with their overseas partner.
The casino operator's relationship with the company was disturbing enough to New Jersey regulators that MGM ultimately agreed to leave Atlantic City.
MGM Springfield President Bill Hornbuckle tells FOX 25 he expects Massachusetts will investigate MGM's history.
"We didn't agree with New Jersey's findings," says Hornbuckle.
Hornbuckle went on to say that Mississippi, Illinois, Nevada, and Michigan have all allowed the company to continue operating.
Hornbuckle also says that things have changed since the New Jersey report. MGM is now the majority owner of the company running the Macau casino, which was not the case when New Jersey investigated.
For now, MGM is moving ahead with plans for a casino in Springfield. It has handed in its $400,000 application fee early to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission won't comment on details, but did tell FOX 25 that every applicant is vigorously checked out. They also say as part of the initial investigation, they will check with gaming regulators in other states where applicants may be operating casinos.