The slot machines are poised for patrons, the card tables are carefully prepared and the entertainment is just getting warmed up. Massachusetts' first resort casino is getting ready for play.
On the eve of MGM Springfield's grand opening, the excitement was palpable.
"Springfield, you took a chance," said MGM Springfield President and COO Mike Mathis. "I promise it'll be worth it."
The city will soon find out if its gamble on a resort style casino in downtown Springfield will, in fact, pay off.
"It means that in a $1 billion project that we're about to witness, a $90 million annual payroll," said Congressman Richard Neal.
"Well over 1,000 Springfield residents are now employed here in the city of Springfield," Mayor Domenic Sarno said.
In a city desperate to rebuild after the 2011 tornado, many felt Springfield had nothing to lose by going all in with MGM.
"This is an urban renewal project, in some respects, this particular neighborhood in Springfield was trashed by the tornadoes and they designed it specifically to fit into this space as a streetscape," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said.
But some opponents have been concerned about bringing gambling to an already economically disadvantaged area.
"Gambling is not a risk-free activity, we recognize that," said Mark Vanderlinden, director of research and responsible gaming at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Through close monitoring and a first-of-its kind in-house "Game Sense" initiative, MGM Springfield hopes to curtail problem gambling.
"We work with at-risk gamblers, we provide real resources, real tips and guides on how to reduce the risk of gambling related harm," said Vanderlinden.
The grand opening kicks off with a parade through the streets of Springfield Friday at 10:30 a.m., then the doors open at 11 a.m.