The Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Wednesday dealt a blow to Mayor Marty Walsh and rejected his request that the commission delay awarding a license to either proposed casino bordering Boston until after a November ballot initiative.
Commissioners voted unanimously during a meeting at Bunker Hill Community College to deny the delay request. It means the commission will move forward in its goal of deciding which, if any, proposed billion-dollar resort casino gets the Greater Boston area license. The commission anticipates to award the license in late August or September.
Commissioners felt that moving ahead would allow for more information to be presented to the public.
“I think the public interest is served by continuing the proceedings,” said Commissioner Enrique Zuniga.
Added Commissioner James McHugh: “Proceeding now makes good sense to me because it’s good public policy.”
Boston officials argued that time and resources would be wasted if the commission moves forward with the process and a November ballot question to repeal the casino law is approved. Doubt has been cast on the state’s expanding gaming effort after the state’s highest court ruled last month in favor of a November ballot question that seeks to repeal the gaming law.
“If no stay is granted and repeal measures passes in November the city will have no remedy to recoup any of the funds it has expended,” said Eugene O’Flaherty, the city’s attorney.
Lawyers and officials from Everett and Revere and the proposed casinos in those cities – Wynn Resorts and Mohegan Sun – argued at the meeting against the delay.
“To keep laboring this and putting it off it sends a bad message to the people in the Commonwealth that we can’t get our act together,” said Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria.
Boston must now move forward with arbitration with the two proposed casinos as the sides could not reach a deal over a surrounding community agreement.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.