A rendering of the proposed Everett casino.Courtesy of Wynn Resorts

(State House News Service) -- State regulators late last week dealt a setback to efforts to build a casino on a 33-acre site in Everett.

Gov. Charlie Baker's energy and environmental affairs chief Matt Beaton on Friday evening reported that the project "does not adequately and properly comply" with a review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).

According to Beaton's decision, traffic and transportation impacts must still be fully addressed under a further review. He added that a land transfer between the MBTA and a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts before the end of the MEPA review was a violation of statute.

Potential remedies proposed by Beaton include a reversal of the land transfer or placing it in escrow until the MEPA review is complete.


Wynn Resorts closed on the purchase of a 1.75-acre parcel for $6 million on March 3, touting the deal as helpful towards advancing its $1.6 billion resort casino. Wynn officials said the deal culminated a lengthy public bidding process and expressed hope that are soil preparation and remediation at the site can begin this summer.

Beaton called on Wynn to provide an explanation for the "premature" land transfer. Separately, he also asked for Wynn to commit to a specific dollar amount for an annual operating subsidy for the MBTA's Orange Line as a way to support service and improvements to the line.

Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo backed an unsuccessful bid for a casino at the former Suffolk Downs racetrack and has called for the attorney general and the inspector general to investigate the MBTA land sale.

On Saturday, he applauded Beaton's decision and called on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to hold a public hearing on the issue and "honestly evaluate the status of the project and the decision making that has led to this moment."

"It's a refreshing change from what until now, has appeared to be an assault by the Commonwealth and its agencies on the Cities of Revere, Boston, and Somerville," Rizzo said in a statement. "I and others have been asking questions about the Illegal land transfer since last year. Despite our pointing out to the T on multiple occasions the severe problems with the deal including the lack of public review, violations of the T's own procurement requirements, and the lack of compliance with MEPA, the T and Wynn went ahead with the sale anyway. With all respect to [Transportation] Secretary [Stephanie] Pollack, who inherited this mess, it is simply not credible that this was an administrative or mere procedural mistake. It's part of a blatant pattern of behavior that has plagued Wynn's project from the start."

[Michael Norton contributed reporting]

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