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Leaf Home arrow The News arrow North East News arrow State casino board delays vote on Suffolk Downs’ Revere plans
State casino board delays vote on Suffolk Downs’ Revere plans
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 05 December 2013
State casino board delays vote on Suffolk Downs’ Revere plans
By: Marie Szaniszlo

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has delayed until next week a decision on whether Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun can shift their casino proposal from East Boston — where voters rejected the project last month — to the Revere portion of the racetrack’s property, where the public approved it.

Chairman Stephen P. Crosby said the commission will decide next week whether Mohegan Sun, which agreed last week to be Suffolk Downs’ development partner and gaming operator on 42 of the racetrack’s 52 acres in Revere, can be the resort casino license applicant, rather than Suffolk Downs, which now says it would only be Mohegan Sun’s landlord.

If Suffolk Downs had remained the applicant, by law it would have to maintain the racetrack, which Suffolk Downs officials say they intend to do, but they could not do so and simultaneously apply for a gaming license because East Boston residents voted down the proposed casino.

The commission will also decide next week whether Revere’s host community agreement and Nov. 5 referendum sufficiently address the possibility of a Revere-only option. Thomas F. Reilly, special counsel to Suffolk Downs, said the decision should be straightforward because the new proposed casino would be in Revere, where voters approved it, and because the commission previously found Mohegan Sun to be a suitable applicant when it proposed building a casino in Palmer. Voters there rejected that project.

Mitchell G. Etess, Mohegan Sun’s CEO, told the commission the proposed casino in Revere would create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs, with preference given to Revere residents.

Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo said he is working with Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs to amend his city’s host community agreement and expects that to be done within the next week or two.

But Commissioner James F. McHugh said that although the proposal is “attractive,” he is “troubled” by it.

“Voters have not had the opportunity to vote on Mohegan Sun,” McHugh said.

And by law, if a gaming proposal is rejected, there can’t be another vote for 180 days, which would be well past the Dec. 31 deadline for gaming applications.

But the real issue, Crosby said, is whether it is possible to change applicants.

“It sounds pretty similar to what we’ve done before,” he said, referring to the commission’s decision earlier this year to allow Plainville to substitute Penn National for an applicant the commission had found unsuitable. In that case, however, Plainville residents had not yet voted on the project.

“The referendum people voted on in Revere is clearly not what’s on the table today,” Crosby said. But, he added, “I’m flabergasted...there hasn’t been a spontaneous outpouring” of opposition to the project in Revere.

“To not permit Revere to go forward, when all reasonable deduction suggests had this been on the table it would have been been enthusiastically endorsed, would be unfair.”

A group of East Boston residents, however, say they may sue to stop the project if the commission finds that Mohegan Sun does have the right to do shift it to Revere.

The only other contender for the sole gaming license in Eastern Massachusetts is Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn, who has proposed a resort casino in Everett. His suitability hearing before the gaming commission is set for Dec. 16.

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