BOSTON—After voters overwhelmingly defeated a ballot question torepeal the state's gaming law, the Massachusetts GamingCommission unanimously approved resort casino licenses toaffiliates of MGM and Wynn Resorts on Wednesday.

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The commission had selected MGM for its resortin Springfield, MA and for Wynn Resorts for itsproject in Everett outside of Boston months earlier but ratifiedthe respective awards after voters defeated the casino law repealproposal on Tuesday.

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Wynn MA, LLC president Robert DeSalvioannounced that Wynn Resorts has paid the $85 million license fee tothe Massachusetts Gaming Commission. MGM will pay its $85-millionlicensing fee to the commission on Nov. 17.

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Wynn plans to convert a contaminated site on the Mystic Riverthat previously housed a Monsanto chemical plant into a$1.6-billion, five-star international destination. Wynn Everettwill feature more than 500 rooms, high-end retail and dining,ballroom and meeting space.

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MGM affiliate Blue Tarp reDevelopment, LLC is spending $800million to build MGM Springfield. The mixed-used developmentproject calls for a 25-story 250-room hotel with amenities thatwill feature a spa, pool and roof deck; 125,000 square feet ofgaming space with 3,000 slot machines, 75 gaming tables, a pokerroom and high limit VIP gambling area; approximately 55,000 squarefeet of retail and restaurant space that will accommodate 15 shopsand restaurants; and a multi-level parking garage.

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James J. Murren, chairman and CEO of MGMResorts International says of the commission's award. "This hasbeen one of the most exciting weeks in MGM's history. We aregrateful to the voters of the Commonwealth, and especially thepeople of Springfield for voting for jobs and economicopportunities. Today we want to thank the Massachusetts GamingCommission for formalizing our agreement that will allow us torevitalize a great downtown."

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MGM Springfield immediately began work on the property after thecasino repeal ballot question was defeated. On Wednesday morning,heavy equipment was at the Howard Street School to conductgeotechnical soil assessments. The site will house a 3,500-spaceparking garage. This is the first time since 2012, when MGM firstformally announced its interest in a resort casino in Springfield,that construction activity has taken place on the site. It signalsthe kick off to early preparations for a spring 2015groundbreaking, company officials state.

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MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis says,"Before year's end we will finalize critical construction permitsand close on real estate transactions, including 1200 Main St. and73 State St. Additionally, in early 2015 we will announce ourgeneral contractor."

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MGM Springfield is projected to create 3,000 permanent jobs and2,000 construction jobs in Downtown Springfield.

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Robert DeSalvio, a senior vice president ofdevelopment for Wynn Resorts, presented the panel with a ceremonial$85-million check at the commission's session on Wednesday.

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''We're so excited to get the project started,'' DeSalvio toldthe Associated Press. ''It just shows our commitment to theCommonwealth.''

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John Jordan

John Jordan is a veteran journalist with 36 years of print and digital media experience.