Representatives of Suffolk Downs racetrack, which wants to build in East Boston and Revere, and Wynn Resorts, which wants to build in Everett, argued their cases before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which warned both warring parties to come to an agreement about whether Boston should be considered as a host city in relation to the Everett casino, or a surrounding community, according to state law.
“I’d hope that everybody can sit around the table and come to a conclusion and quickly—within hours, days, the time is really short,” declared Commission Chairman Steve Crosby (above with Gov. Deval Patrick). “It’s time this gets resolved.”
And it was resolved a day later when the city of Boston dropped its claim as a host city, which would have given city residents a say over whether or not the Everett project would be approved by the commission. Instead, Boston will opt to be considered a “surrounding community,” which gives it the right to be compensated for impacts upon the city. Everett voters have already given the nod to the Wynn project.
In a joint statement issued on Friday, the competitors said they would no longer ask for a commission hearing to decide the issue.
“Based on the new information provided at Wednesday’s public meeting, the parties have agreed to begin discussions about Boston’s status as a surrounding community to address the impacts that Wynn’s proposed gaming establishment would have on Boston and the Charlestown community,” the statement read.
This issue was considered of paramount importance in deciding the fate of the Everett casino, since Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has made no secret of his desire to kill the upstart Everett casino, so that the Boston proposal can move forwarded unimpeded.
A week earlier, Suffolk Downs filed formal plans for its casino with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. This is the opening step in the development review process for a project that has the full support of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s administration.
The developer proposes a $1 billion casino with 6,600 slots and gaming tables, two hotels with a total of 450 rooms, taverns, 17 restaurants and 30,000 square feet of retail shopping.
Menino signed a host community agreement with Suffolk Downs that would pay Boston $32 million a year, but the casino is the subject of hot debate among the candidates to replace the retiring mayor. So starting the process under Menino’s sympathetic review will move the process along in case an anti-casino mayor is elected.