Last Thursday, May 8, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) rejected the City of Boston’s petition to be considered a ‘Host Community’ rather than a ‘Surrounding Community’ under the state’s gaming law.
It was a decision that was applauded in Revere and Everett – as both casino applicants would have been majorly affected by the designation of Boston, likely having to stage a vote in Charlestown and East Boston.
While the City of Boston argued that both the Mohegan Sun proposal in Revere adjacent to the Suffolk Downs Racetrack in East Boston and the Wynn proposal in Everett would benefit from Boston roads and other amenities, the Gaming Commission ruled otherwise and designated Boston a surrounding community.
“I’m disappointed in today’s decision by the Gaming Commission,” said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. “The Commission’s announcement seemed predetermined because after three hours of testimony, they only took 10 minutes to arrive at a decision. I have said – and I truly believe – that Boston is a host community to both sites, and I intend to continue to do everything in my power to protect our best interests. The people of East Boston and Charlestown deserve the opportunity to vote. Tomorrow, I will meet with my legal team to evaluate all of the options available to us right now. We have not made a decision about our next step, but we will share developments as they are available.”
Others, however, disagreed and said they were ready to move on and begin surrounding community negotiations with Boston.
Mitchell Etess, CEO of Mohegan Tribal gaming Authority said his group remains committed to continuing the productive discussions they’ve had with the City of Boston, and to reaching a comprehensive surrounding community agreement, as they have with eight other neighboring communities.
“We also look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Gaming Commission and demonstrating that Mohegan Sun is the best choice for Massachusetts,” he said.
Chip Tuttle, COO of Suffolk Downs said in addition to Mohegan Sun’s discussions with the City of Boston, Suffolk Downs is committed to working with Mayor Walsh and his team on a master plan for the Boston portion of our property that preserves the track’s 79-year legacy as a local sports and entertainment venue while providing an opportunity for additional economic development for the city.
“We are pleased with the outcome of the Gaming Commission meeting and their preliminary decision of Surrounding Community status for the City of Boston,” said Michael Weaver, senior vice president of marketing for Wynn. “We look forward to concluding a Surrounding Community Agreement with the city soon. “
At last Thursday’s hearing , Boston city lawyers said that both Mohegan and Wynn would benefit from Boston’s numerous amenities and infrastructure like Logan Airport in Eastie. The City also argued that Mohegan’s project is linked to Suffolk Downs. Two thirds of the historic racetrack is within Eastie’s border.
Eastie voters rejected the casino plan in November paving the way for Suffolk Downs’ ownership and Mohegan to simply move the casino project to the Revere side of the property where voters approved a casino plan.
“Based on the ambiguous and arbitrary process the Gaming Commission has pursued, we believe that we have multiple options available to us at this time,” said Walsh. “We are continuing to work aggressively to determine the appropriate action to continue our fight for the people of Boston. My position has not changed: Boston is a host community to both sites, and the people of Boston — of Charlestown and East Boston — deserve the opportunity to vote and have their voices heard.”
He did not rule out litigation.