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Gaming Commission Blocks MGM's Roadside Video Ads

An artist's rendering of the dynamic sign below the MGM Springfield marquee and other signs on the casino's parking garage facing Interstate 91.
MGM Springfield via MassLive
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masslive.com/photos
An artist's rendering of the dynamic sign below the MGM Springfield marquee and other signs on the casino's parking garage facing Interstate 91.

Massachusetts casino regulators have delivered a rare setback for MGM Springfield. The company wanted to play videos on a large sign visible from interstate 91, but the gaming commission worried about distracting drivers. 

In making his case to the commission on Tuesday, MGM vice president and lawyer Seth Stratton said short video clips are a way to entertain and draw attention.

That statement led to an awkward exchange with Commissioner Gayle Cameron.

"I'm sorry, did you just say you wanted to entertain folks?" asked Cameron, a former New Jersey state police official.

"Yes, yeah, I mean..." Stratton answered, before Cameron interrupted him.

"You want to entertain folks while they're driving?" she asked.

"We're an entertainment company," Stratton said. "We want to reflect that there's entertainment at the property. An entertaining sign -- it's all about entertainment. Now, you can be entertained, I believe, and not be distracted."

Cameron didn't buy it and the commission unanimously agreed to block MGM from putting video clips on the sign. But the company can still display rotating still images every 8 seconds, following a federal guideline.

The gaming commission will reconsider its decision in three months, after more traffic and accident data is available.

The casino is scheduled to open a week from Friday.

Disclosure: MGM has purchased underwriting from New England Public Radio publicizing the company's non-gambling activities. The NEPR newsroom operates independently of the station's development department, and editorial decisions are made without regard to any funding relationships.

Sam has overseen local news coverage on New England Public Media since 2013. He oversees a team of about a dozen full- and part-time reporters and hosts.
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