Palmer, Mass., town council to see Sun jobs

Mohegan - Officials from Palmer, the western Massachusetts town where the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority wants to build a resort casino, will visit Mohegan Sun Saturday.

The Connecticut casino invited members of the Palmer Town Council to tour the facility "to get a better idea of how it works, the kind of support services it has, the kind of jobs it has," Charlie Blanchard, Palmer's town manager, said Thursday.

Blanchard said he expects to participate along with most if not all of the council's seven members.

Although the proposed Mohegan Sun Palmer would not be nearly as big as Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, it would be "the same type of facility," Blanchard said.

Plans for the Palmer casino, proposed for a 152-acre site off Exit 8 of Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike, call for a $600 million resort that would include slot machines and table games, a luxury hotel, restaurants, retail shops and meeting/entertainment space.

MTGA officials are negotiating a "host community agreement" with Palmer officials, a required step in the process leading to an application for a casino license. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will issue one license for western Massachusetts.

The Mohegans, whose Palmer proposal calls for a commercial casino, will likely have to compete for a license with at least one of several projects proposed for Springfield, a city fewer than 20 miles west of Palmer.

Blanchard said negotiations between the town and MTGA are progressing. Once the agreement is finished, MTGA would seek approval of its casino plan from townspeople in a binding referendum, another step required by the gaming commission. Terms of the agreement would be well publicized prior to the vote, Blanchard said. "We want residents in the community to be well informed."

Palmer residents have supported the idea of a casino in their town in previous nonbinding referendums.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is reviewing applications in a two-part process. In the first phase, it is focusing on the financial wherewithal of applicants while in the second phase it will consider casino plans.

MTGA and Mohegan Sun executives are expected to conduct Saturday's tour, which will encompass the casino's hotel and food-and-beverage facilities, including their back-of-house operations.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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