Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess
Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess pitched his $600 million Western Mass casino proposal to a crowd of about 100 business leaders and town officials this afternoon at the Amherst Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting held at the Lord Jeffery Inn.
Touting his four years of work on the project, having opened an office in Palmer in 2009 and pouring $15 million to date into the project, Mr Etess also highlighted his company's recent strategic partnership with Brigade Capital Management, a $12 billion dollar investment fund.
His biggest selling point? Regional development. Not just for Palmer, the host community, but places as far away as Amherst, home to our favorite institute of higher education.
Etess pointed out Umass hosts the well known Isenberg School of Management Hospitality & Tourism Management program.
Amherst Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe cited the predominance of students in Amherst and asked if the casino will tempt them to make "bad decisions"? Etess responded that they are "very careful" about underage drinking and underage gambling.
And he also pointed out it "it's easier to make a bet today in your college dorm room than it is in a casino."
With three other major players -- Penn National Gaming, MGM and Hard Rock International -- vigorously pursuing a casino licenses for Western Massachusetts, it's a safe bet that Amherst cannot avoid being impacted by "casino mania".
Only question is, will it be a winner ... or craps?