Westfield Eyed As Latest Potential Western Mass. Casino Site

As the AP reports: "Westfield is the latest community to enter the sweepstakes for a casino in western Massachusetts."

Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik told the Springfield Republican that he's had discussions with Penn National Gaming about a potential casino on a 280-acre site near the Massachusetts Turnpike.

"My job is to provide an opportunity for the best possible situation, and then have the voters decide [on a potential casino site]," Knapik, who prefers a resort-style casino to a slots facility, told the Republican.

The AP reports that the land is owned by Needham-based Equity Industrial Partners.

In April, the Republican reported that three to four casino developers had shown interest in the former Pavilion Mall site in Westfield.

The Westfield site adds another possible competitor for the one western Massachusetts casino license: Mohegan Sun has long had a presence in Palmer; Ameristar Casinos has purchased a $16 million site in Springfield; and sites have been explored in Holyoke, though the city's new mayor opposes casinos.

In March, MGM Resorts abandoned plans for a potential casino in Brimfield.

Update at 3 p.m.: Reached by our Newscast unit, Eric Shippers, a vice president at Penn National Gaming, said the company has its eyes set on a city slightly east.

"Our primary focus continues to be Springfield; we like the urban revitalization aspects of that," Shippers told Newscast. "But Westfield is one of the other communities we've been also exploring on a parallel path."

This program aired on May 8, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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