Assessing Health Impacts of the Springfield Casino

Amanda Houpt, Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) Project Manager, details the recent Community Forum, sponsored by Partners for a Healthier Community at the Community Music School in Springfield.

In 2013, Springfield-based Partners for a Healthier Community assembled a group of community stakeholders and conducted a health impact assessment focused on casino development. The resulting Western Massachusetts Casino Health Impact Assessment (WMCHIA) identifies the potential health impacts that may result from the new MGM Springfield casino slated to open in 2018. SEIGMA’s principal investigator, Rachel Volberg, participated in the WMCHIA process by sharing her expertise about impacts of expanded gambling that have been identified in other jurisdictions around the world.

On October 21, the collaboration continued as Partners for a Healthier Community invited members of the SEIGMA research team to present at a forum titled: How Will the Casino Impact the Springfield Area: Current Research on Gambling and Socioeconomic Status. The event, hosted in the beautiful Community Music School in downtown Springfield, gathered concerned community members and featured an overview of the project and a question-and-answer session.

After spending the last year analyzing data and reporting results, we were thrilled to connect with the Western Massachusetts community at this event. Back in June the team released a report containing preliminary results from the large baseline survey that we completed in 2014. Just this month, our partners at the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI) released a series of profiles that provide an overview of economic and fiscal conditions in each of the MA communities that will be hosting a new gambling venue.

“It was great to have the opportunity to talk with members of the community and share with them both the baseline information we have collected and analyzed, as well as explain our plans for tracking the economic and fiscal impacts related to expanded gaming in their community,” noted Mark Melnik, Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at UMDI, and one of the SEIGMA teams presenters at the event.

Broadly sharing data and findings is one of the major goals of the study and the Springfield forum was a critical piece in helping us to achieve this goal.

“Understanding baseline social and economic conditions in Springfield prior to the development of MGM Springfield is important to many stakeholders in the community. Having the data in hand means that we will be in the best possible position to address any negative consequences that emerge going forward,” said Volberg, who presented at the Springfield forum.

You can read news coverage about the event here. You can also find a complete deck of slides from the presentation here. In addition, the public television network Focus Springfield recorded the event and will air it over the next month on channels 12, 15, and 17.

Photos in this blog are courtesy of Focus Springfield Community Television.