MGM Springfield has repaid an outstanding debt of close to $2.3 million to the City of Springfield, Massachusetts, despite having suffered significant losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Springfield Republican reports.
The complex had owed the sum since April when it paid about $5.5 million, an initial payment from a total of $7,780,376.32 agreed upon in the Host Community Agreement the hotel and casino signed with the city before it opened in 2018.
Springfield’s chief administrative and financial officer, Timothy J. Plante, confirmed on Friday that the payment had been made on Monday, adding that this settles the hotel’s debt to the city.
Heavy COVID impact on the casino
The payment comes at a time of significant financial strain for the complex which had to lay off or reduce working hours for 250 workers on Friday, citing a 9:30 PM curfew imposed by Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker to combat the spread of COVID-19. This was the second redundancy wave this year for MGM Springfield after it laid off 1,000 employees in August who were previously furloughed during the four-month shutdown that ended in July.
The curfew, which came into effect on Saturday, means that last calls on the casino floor are now at 8:45 PM and drink services stop at 9:00 PM, Springfield’s 22News/WWLP-TV reports. This has supposedly caused inconvenience with patrons who will now have to readjust their schedules to fit into the new working hours. Meanwhile, the hotel will be closed until further notice.
MGM Springfield is one of Massachusetts’ three casinos. In March, it applied to the city for relief on some of its financial obligations due to force majeure circumstances, referring to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting drop in revenue. Even after it reopened in July, the casino’s turnover was far from its usual levels.
To reduce the risk of a spread of COVID-19 on its premises, MGM Springfield introduced a range of precautions including mandatory face coverings for anyone who enters the venue, plexiglass barriers between gaming tables and slot machines, as well as limits on attendance.
Mayor praises MGM community impact
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno praised MGM for its commitment to the Host Community Agreement with the city despite the extraordinary financial circumstances. He reiterated that the city intends to enforce all contractual obligations under the agreement and assured that it would continue to work with businesses “to help stabilize them during these challenging and surreal times”.
The city receives between $24 and $25 million a year from MGM in the form of taxes, development grants, and community impact payments. The Mayor cited a 12-year study by the University of Massachusetts highlighting MGM Springfield as a major driver of jobs and economic development for the region.