Boston Seeks To Protect Status In Casino Talks
BOSTON (AP) — Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is asking the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to preserve the city’s rights both as a host and as a surrounding community in talks over proposed casino projects in Revere and Everett.
Walsh faced a 5 p.m. Monday deadline from the commission to request the city’s status.
Walsh said the move will preserve the city’s right to assert host community status for both proposals without waiving its rights to surrounding community status.
“We believe this unrestricted route is the best path forward to protect the residents of East Boston and Charlestown, and the City of Boston as a whole,” Walsh said.
The state’s 2011 casino law requires casino developers to negotiate agreements with surrounding communities to mitigate any impacts the casino might have on traffic or public safety.
Unlike in a host community, the law does not give voters in a surrounding community direct say over whether a casino can be built.
The commission also has the authority to order binding arbitration if a surrounding community is unable to come to terms with a casino developer.
Mohegan Sun has proposed a $1.3 billion resort casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in Revere. An earlier plan by Suffolk Downs to develop a casino on the East Boston/Revere border was nixed by East Boston voters in November.
Las Vegas casino operator Steve Wynn has offered a $1.2 billion casino plan for a former industrial site along the Mystic River in Everett.
Both sites are very close to Boston.
The Everett site is so close, in fact, that the administration of former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had once argued that a portion of it was actually in the city, which would have made Boston a host community.
The city withdrew its claim after representatives for Wynn produced maps showing the site to be entirely within the borders of Everett.
East Boston residents have objected to the Revere-only project, arguing that the neighborhood will continue to be impacted by traffic problems in the new location.
Walsh is also asking the commission to compel both casino operators to provide “any and all information requested by the city so that it may best evaluate its status as host or surrounding community and properly evaluate the two proposals in relation to the city.”
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