The newly minted casino partners Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun got good news from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, even though the referendum that approved a casino at Suffolk Downs in Revere was turned down in East Boston.
The marriage brings together two spurned casino developers, one defeated in East Boston and the other rejected in Palmer. Because the referendum specifically stated that there would not be a casino in Revere, nor did it name the Mohegan Sun, legal experts said a re-vote would be necessary. But since a vote can’t be taken until 60 days after a new plan is announced, some feared that time would expire on Suffolk Downs at the end of the year. But the commission granted Suffolk Downs a waiver from the rules, which would allow a new vote, probably in February.
Events followed quickly after the Mohegan Sun’s casino proposal for Palmer was defeated by the slimmest of majorities. Although Mohegan Sun quickly called for a recount due to irregularities with one voting machine, the Mohegan Tribe began talks with the owner of the racetrack, which was seeking an operator for its casino after East Boston voted down its casino proposal in the same election where Revere voters handily approved it.
The new operator became necessary when Caesars Entertainment withdrew from the process after a potentially negative report to the commission came to light.
During the interim following the Boston electoral defeat, Suffolk Downs talked to Hard Rock International, whose proposal for West Springfield was defeated two months ago, and Rush Street Gaming, which proposed and then withdrew a plan for a slot parlor in Millbury.
Despite having been defeated in Palmer, Mohegan Sun is solidly backed financially by a partnership with Brigade Capital Management, which has assets of $12 billion. It also has the advantage of having passed the ethical and financial vetting process by the commission. Should Suffolk Downs be chosen, the racetrack would just be the landlord; the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority would own and operate the casino.
Some former casino supporters in Palmer are hot under the collar because they suspect that Mohegan Sun was already thinking about shifting to Revere even before the November 5 vote.
Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess denied that allegation and said in a statement, “The site off exit 8 in Palmer remains an excellent opportunity for commercial development, and we look forward to coordinating efforts with Palmer so that it is developed for maximum benefit to the community.”