Boston appears close to coming to an agreement with at least one major casino company vying to build a resort gaming facility in a neighboring city.
Mayor Marty Walsh for months has asserted that Boston is a host community to separate resort casino proposals to be located in Revere and Everett, close to the borders those cities share with Boston. Host communities receive more benefits from the casinos to off set impacts than the benefits awarded to municipalities considered surrounding communities.
A Massachusetts Gaming Commission hearing on Thursday was scheduled to determine whether Boston is a host community, something the casino developers - Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts - have disagreed with.
Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby said that lawyers for Boston filed a letter at 4 p.m. Wednesday asking for a one week extension. About an hour or two later he said he received a rare call from Gov. Deval Patrick, urging Crosby to consider the extension request. Crosby said he hasn't spoken to Patrick since the press conference announcing him as the commission's chairman.
Crosby said Patrick told him that he believes the city and casinos are close enough to an agreement that it was worth giving the process another week. Crosby said he was given no indication whether the sides are working toward a host community or surrounding community agreement.
Commissioners unanimously granted Boston's request for the extension.
However, a lawyer for Wynn Resorts told the commission that the letter took the company by surprise and they only learned of it at Thursday's meeting.
"From Wynn's perspective, we have had no such conversations with the city," said Tony Starr, Wynn's lawyer. He added that there was no new pending information regarding an agreement.
Commissioner Gayle Cameron said she was willing to grant Boston's extension request because both sides talking is a good thing.
"The best decisions are made by parities involved," she said. "This isn't something we haven't done before in circumstances."
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