EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

May 9, 2014

Casino commission says Boston not a host community

BOSTON (AP) — Boston residents will not have the chance to vote up or down on Las Vegas-style resort casinos being proposed in the neighboring cities of Everett and Revere by Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts, state gambling regulators ruled yesterday.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission unanimously voted, in principle, to deny the city’s request to be named a “host community” for the two casino plans, which are vying to win the sole gambling license in the state’s eastern region.

The commission instead declared Boston a “surrounding community,” a designation that entitles it to negotiate financial compensation from the casinos, but not the right to voter referendums.

The commission is expected to issue a final, written decision on the matter next week as it aims to award the eastern region license in the coming months.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he was disappointed with the decision, saying in a statement that he still believes residents of the Boston neighborhoods of Charlestown and East Boston, which border Revere and Everett, should vote on the two casino proposals.

The mayor did not rule out the possibility of challenging the commission’s ruling, saying he would meet with his legal team today to evaluate the city’s options.

Wynn Resorts, meanwhile, said it looked forward to negotiating with the city on a surrounding community agreement.

Wynn proposes a $1.5 billion casino in Everett, on a former chemical plant site along the Mystic River. Mohegan Sun proposes a more than $1 billion casino in Revere on land owned by Suffolk Downs, a horse racing track that straddles the Boston-Revere line.

Yesterday’s vote came after months of intrigue over the fate of the eastern region casino license.

Granting Boston host community status would have surely meant defeat for the two casino proposals: East Boston residents last year rejected a proposed casino on the Boston side of Suffolk Downs that had initially been put forward by Caesars Entertainment.

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