Walsh: Boston may be ‘host community’ to Revere, Everett casinos
Having yet to come to an agreement with casino developers in Revere and Everett, Mayor Marty Walsh’s office filed petitions with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that preserves “host community” status, and the financial benefits that could come with it, for the city.
The city on Monday petitioned the gaming commission for surrounding community status for the proposed Greater Boston casinos in Everett and Revere. But, Walsh said in a statement that the petitions preserve the city’s right to assert “host community” status.
Host communities generally get more benefits and revenue from the gaming companies seeking to build a resort casino, whereas surrounding communities receive some, but fewer financial benefits.
“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 in a statement. “At any time, if the facts indicate that Boston is a host city, we preserve its right to withdraw from surrounding community negotiations.”
Monday was the deadline for the city to petition the gaming commission as a surrounding community. A surrounding community is entitled to some benefits because of its proximity to a casino.
The controversial issue came about after a November vote in which residents of East Boston rejected an initial resort casino proposal at Suffolk Downs and residents in Revere approved of it. Suffolk Downs stretches into both East Boston and Revere.
After the vote, Suffolk Downs and new gaming partner Mohegan Sun revised plans and moved the proposed $1 billion casino onto 42 acres of the track located within Revere.
Revere has worked out a Host Community Agreement with Mohegan Sun that would generate at least $25 million annually to the city along with tens in millions in infrastructure improvements. A Revere-only vote to approve of it is scheduled for Feb. 25.
Walsh had requested more time to review the issue and thousands of documents, but the gaming commission declined his request. Walsh said on Friday he was “disappointed” that the gaming commission failed to grant him more time and called Monday’s deadline “arbitrary.”
Also fighting for a casino license in the Greater Boston area is Wynn Resorts and Everett.
The city said that it asked the gaming commission in its petition to “compel” Mohegan Sun and Wynn to provide all information requested by Boston officials so that they can “best evaluate its status as host or surrounding community and properly evaluate the two proposals in relation to the City.”
Mohegan and Wynn now have 10 days to submit to the gaming commission a response to the petition and the commission may then ask for a presentation from both sides.
In a news release, the commission said it “strongly encourages” both sides to reach agreements.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.