Another Delay: Casino License Award Moved Back Indefinitely Due to Boston Concerns

April 9, 2014

Waiting seems to be the name of the game when it comes to gaming in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced last Friday that it would be delaying the award of a Greater Boston resort casino license indefinitely. The timeline to award a casino license in Greater Boston has steadily moved back for the last year, and most recently it sat at June 30.

However, previously, the deadline had been in late 2013, then in February 2014 and April 2014 and then mid-May 2014. The Commission finally settled on June 30 two months ago.

This time, the change comes at the behest of new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and East Boston/Charlestown City Councillor Sal LaMattina. Both have petitioned the MGC via City of Boston attorneys for Boston to have the right to be a host community due to the major impacts a casino in Revere or Everett would have on Boston. Using what many believe to be a loophole in the gaming law, Walsh has said Boston might qualify as a host City.

Walsh and LaMattina are also calling for another referendum vote to be held. One for the Mohegan proposal in Eastie and another for the Wynn proposal in Charlestown.

“As a City Councillor who represents District 1 (in Boston), I have to do what’s right for my district,” LaMattina told the East Boston Times. “Today, I would like to go on record in support of Mayor Walsh in his quest to achieve host community status. My reasoning on this is very clear; Mohegan Sun may be building the entire project in the City of Revere, but the City of Boston plays an integral and vital  role to the success of the establishment.

“…My neighborhood will still be as heavily impacted as the original proposal,” he continued, referencing Mohegan’s project. “I have to agree with Mayor Walsh that Boston will be the key selling point of the proposed casino in Revere. All the branding will be Boston. All the marketing for the casino  will be Boston. A major attraction to this casino will be Boston.”

All of that was discussed at last Thursday’s MGC meeting in great depth, and Commissioners voted unanimously to hold a public meeting on May 1 regarding the “determination of the premises of the gaming establishment for which Mohegan Sun Massachusetts, LLC and Wynn MA, LLC seeks approval in their…applications.”

More importantly, the MGC ruled that this cog in the wheel will once again cause them to extend the timeline on awarding the license.

“This will result in the final decision on the Region A license being delayed to an undetermined date,” read the Commission’s decision.

The MGC is also soliciting public comment in the form of legal briefs prior to the May 1 hearing. It specified the briefs should state the reasons for the positions taken, identify supporting legal authorities, and include any sworn affidavits, authenticated documents, and other relevant evidence not otherwise included in a casino application. The briefs are limited to 15 pages, and are due on April 17.

Any responses or replies to those filed briefs can also be submitted to the MGC, and are due by April 24.

Mayor Dan Rizzo said he doesn’t blame Mayor Walsh for holding up the process, saying it is important to be thorough.

“I completely understand Mayor Walsh’s desire to do his due diligence prior to entering into any agreement pertaining to casino gaming that would impact the City of Boston,” said Rizzo. “I look forward to working with Mayor Walsh and the residents of East Boston in creating a first-class gaming establishment in Revere, while saving close to 1,000 jobs at Suffolk Downs.”

Representatives from Mohegan Sun said

“Our discussions with Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston have been positive, and we understand the importance of working closely with the communities impacted by our project,” said Mohegan CEO Mitchell Etess. “We will continue to work with the Gaming Commission on the timeline they have established. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts’ construction timetable is still far ahead of the Everett proposal meaning that we would deliver thousands of jobs and millions in revenue more quickly to the Commonwealth.”

At the same time, Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs are having to deal with a ruling by state environmental regulators last week that said the project will have to go through a longer environmental process than expected.

Richard Sullivan, the state secretary for environmental affairs, recently ruled that the project would have to submit a supplemental draft environmental impact report (SEIR) – which means the project cannot continue under the old project’s environmental permitting process. Sullivan has asked that Mohegan submit additional data on things like traffic, to public transportation and flooding issues.

Mohegan officials have said they expect the additional process to only last another month or so longer than they expected.

  • Mr. Waiting Forever

    This is very upsetting- I just don’t think the casino is ever going to happen, folks. The gaming commission could have and should have immediately dismissed Walsh’s claim that it should be considered a host community- it is not. Revere is not part of Boston and Everett is not part of Boston. I pay my taxes to the City of Revere, not to the city of Boston. Walsh’s claim is ludicrous on its face, but because they hold so much power they are going to be able to say whether or not Revere can have a casino. East Boston already said no last November, and there is no way the Charlestown snoots will allow a casino in Everett. All this is whitewashing about due diligence, blah blah blah. It’s really about the liberal do-gooders(ie Walsh, LaMattina, most other Democrats) who have determined that gambling is a bad vice for you and should not be allowed under any circumstances. Of course, it’s all well and fine to legalize weed and allow me to legally marry a guy if I want to, or to try to combat so-called ‘global warming’ with our tax dollars, but gosh darnit, gambling is just too risky. What hypocritical fools.
    Mayor Dan Rizzo- I sincerely appreciate your diplomacy regarding this matter, although it is not necessary. If I was mayor I would want to slap the living shiite out of Marty Walsh- he’s trying to be this big tough new mayor- and ruin it for his neighbors next door.

  • stevenorton

    I don’t know what Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is trying to accomplish. But if
    his City was granted host community status, a City vote would probably fail,
    leaving the Gaming Commission to determine if either Wynn or Mohegan could even go forward. The group trying for a Statewide vote on gaming could very well be behind Mayor Walsh’s current position. Speaker DeLeo was quoted in today’s Herald, questioning the Mayor’s position. There is no doubt that Boston will provide most of this casino’s customers, and is deserving of some compensation for detailed impacts; but under the State’s Gaming Statute, only the host community gets a yes or no vote.

  • drensber

    Yep, the legislation was terribly flawed and rigged by dirty old DeLeo. That’s why it will be reversed in November. He tried to subvert the democratic process, and now it’s coming back to bite him.

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