The Western Massachusetts Casino Health Impact Assessment, a project funded by the Health Impact Project, looked at the health impacts of a new casino to be located in Palmer, Springfield, or West Springfield. The Casino Health Impact Assessment is different from other types of casino related assessments. It was specifically meant to inform the casino licensing decision-making process through community input and scientific evidence, and to predict potential health impacts and develop recommendations.
Increasingly communities are using health impact assessments (HIAs) across the country to promote health considerations into decisions. HIAs have led to changes in project designs, budgeting priorities, affordable housing costs, and local hiring community benefits agreements, just to name a few examples. In general, HIAs help ensure that health and health inequities are considered in the decision-making processes by actively engaging and involving stakeholders in assessing potential direct and indirect health risks and benefits.
The Public Health Institute of Western MA, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences, and the City of Springfield’s Department of Health and Human Services, led the Casino Health Impact Assessment. The project’s advisory committee included leaders from each of the potential casino host communities, regional and community stakeholders, and HIA and research experts.
The Casino Health Impact Assessment aimed to examine a number of health risks, including those potentially linked to gambling, such as substance abuse and mental health. It also looked at the potential health benefits of a casino, including those related to employment opportunities such as changes in employment status and access to health insurance. It sought to raise awareness among decision-makers and the public, so they could take action to improve health and mitigate negative health impacts before final agreements or policies are adopted.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will hold Open Meeting #249 on Thursday, August 2, 2018, at 12:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the MassMutual Center, 1277 Main Street, Springfield, MA. A live stream of the Open Meeting will be available on MassGaming.com. Follow MGC on Twitter for live meeting updates.