During its two years of operation, MGM Springfield has resulted in more than 6,000 net jobs and $357m in personal income, all while avoiding an increase in the rate of problem gambling or at-risk gamblers.
Those are two of the findings of a new study from researchers at UMass Amherst. The school has sponsored a series of Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts, or SEIGMA, reports. These studies include surveys of MGM Springfield employees, casino patrons and community residents.
MGM Springfield was the first resort-style casino in Massachusetts when it opened. According to Thomas Peake, senior research analyst at the UMass Donahue Institute, the SEIGMA partner responsible for economic and fiscal impact research, in its first year of operation, MGM Springfield directly created 2,538 jobs paying $85.2 million.
Statewide, spending by the casino on wages and to vendors supported a total of 6,287 net jobs and $356.9 million in personal income, Peake added.
“MGM did a good job of hiring locally and they hired quite a diverse workforce with a significant number of people who had been unemployed or underemployed previously,” said Rachel Volberg, principal investigator of the SEIGMA study and research professor in the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences.
The study found most casino patrons did not shift their spending toward the casino and away from other businesses in Massachusetts. MGM Springfield visitors accounted for $66.3 million in new, off-site spending.
“One of the big findings we have is that 62% of patron spending was new to the state and would not have occurred had it not been for the casino,” Peake said.
The study noted public health researchers typically expect an initial increase in problem gambling after the introduction of a casino, but that was not the case in Springfield, nor did problem gambling increase after the Plainridge Park Casino opened in Plainville in 2015.
“It appears to be an already exposed population as far as casino gambling is concerned,” Volberg said. “The Massachusetts population is far from naïve when it comes to casino gambling. States surrounding Massachusetts, including Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, have had casino gambling for decades prior to the introduction of casino gambling in Massachusetts. Lengthy exposure means harmful effects may have abated over time, even in a population that has experienced recent local expansion.”