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Church Becomes Casino

An interesting situation in Springfield, Massachusetts: if plans go ahead as MGM Resorts International wants them to, then a Catholic Church becomes casino parking lot grounds – an idea that really has not gone down well with anti casino sectors. A spokesman for the church said that gambling is not seen as sinful per se, but that “the possible consequences that can derive from them” are not welcomed by the Bishops.

Rather than getting down on their knees to offer prayers up to God in a quiet and holy environment, gamblers could now be getting out of their cars and offering prayers up to God that their slot machine games will all be winners and their high stakes bets will pay off, so long as the state gambling authorities award the necessary license. MGM bought the land that belongs to the rectory, formerly St Joseph’s Church, for $1 million, with a deed restriction in place which prevents any usage of the land which is contrary to Catholic teachings. Indeed, one can say that parking your car has never been and most likely never will be considered to be a sin, so there should be no problems in this area. Though the casino itself might have been an issue, using the land for a secondary purpose is not seen as a violation at all.

There is just one casino license up for grabs in Western Massachusetts, and four companies fighting for it: MGM, the Mohegan Tribal Authority, Penn National Gaming, and Ameristar all want to get their hands on it. MGM seems to be leading the pack by virtue of having access to almost all of the land that they would need already, though the Church issue will also go against them. They are ready to spend something in the region of $7 to 800 million on the project, which would include a twenty five storey hotel with as much as two hundred and fifty rooms. It is clear that it would be a big project, but time will tell as to whether they can go ahead.

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