Indefinitely has turned into mid-September for the casino licensing deadline in Greater Boston, but many are growing frustrated with the process and, privately, not many are certain the new September deadline will stick.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) released an updated, estimated schedule on Monday afternoon that could push the licensing decision out to mid-September. It is just another in a long string of decisions to push the date down the road. It was first expected to be granted in late 2013.
Mayor Dan Rizzo said he believes it is time to begin finishing the process rather than continuing it on and on. While he stopped short of being frustrated, he said many are waiting for jobs, and revenues are being lost.
“Legislation pertaining to expanded gaming was passed back on November of 2011 to create jobs and generate revenues for the Commonwealth,” he said. “It is now 2014 and while we support the process, we believe the time is now to bring these goals to fruition and keep Massachusetts gaming dollars here locally.”
Other City officials, who wished not to be named, had very little optimism that the current schedule would stick.
“I’ll be putting that date in pencil and keeping a keeping a big eraser very close by,” said one City official. “If the ballot question they’re talking about is allowed on by the SJC, then you know that will be pushed back until at least November. Then you have the holidays and you’re into next year. Who knows?”
Several unknowns still exist in the licensing process, however, that did not exist in the earlier timelines.
First and foremost is the potential statewide ballot question that could eliminate expanding gaming altogether if the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) rules to allow it on the November ballot, and it passes muster with the voters in the fall.
Many believe if that question is allowed, the MGC will postpone the decision again to await the results of that all-important question.
The new schedule shows that the licensing for Greater Boston could happen as early Aug. 29 if arbitration on surrounding community agreements don’t use a special 10-day negotiation period.
If they do use it, the date of Sept. 12 will become the deadline.
Meanwhile, the new deadline for the western Massachusetts license would be June 13, some three months prior to Greater Boston.