Boston Pols Continue to Eye Wynn Proposal Suspiciously

August 7, 2013
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The subject of a proposed resort casino development in Everett has evolved quite dramatically in the past nine months.

In November, nearly any politico who was paying attention to casino development in Massachusetts had determined that the lone resort casino license for the Greater Boston area was going to be awarded to the group that owned Suffolk Downs in East Boston and Revere.

However, since that time the competition for that sole license in the eastern region of the state has been turned on its ear, and the recent rumblings out of Boston – including an obviously planted story in the Boston Globe several weeks back  that opined the Everett development may also be on Boston land and a story in the Monday (August 5) Boston Herald that Boston Mayoral hopeful and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley had pledged to sue the Everett development if Boston voters fail to support the Suffolk Downs proposal – show just how nervous Boston politicians and casino watchers have become about the prospects for a casino in Everett.

This is not to say that the Wynn proposal has passed all of its hurdles and has become the new front-runner in the casino gambling race in greater Boston.

But Steve Wynn and the city of Everett have certainly made it a horse race. If they hadn’t, why would Mayor Menino or District Attorney Conley even mention it?

In some regards, the Suffolk Downs proposal is still viewed by some at the state level as the preferred option. The proposal sits (at least partly) within city limits in Boston, it has easy public access to both Logan International Airport and downtown Boston, and the details of the project are much better known and discussed, owing to the length of time that Suffolk Downs owners and partners have been developing their casino proposal.

Additionally, once the Suffolk team finalizes an agreement with the city of Boston and announces its agreement with the city of Revere, the Gaming Commission will truly have a chance to grade these two proposals against each other.

There is still the very real possibility that the Suffolk Downs proposal will win back the momentum and favor of the people who matter most – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission – once their investment in their two host communities is known. A decidedly larger investment in the host agreements with Boston and Revere, coupled with a pair of winning elections in both neighborhoods (East Boston and Revere) could overwhelm the optimism that has been created in Everett with its early successes.

Still, the distance the Everett/Wynn proposal has traveled in such a short time is a real credit to the people who have worked on this proposal for the city of Everett over the last seven to eight months, especially Planning and Development Director James Errickson and Assistant City Solicitor David Rodrigues. To be sure, Mayor Carlo DeMaria has also been instrumental in bringing a resort casino proposal to Everett from the beginning and if the city and Wynn are successful in actually winning the license, Mayor DeMaria will be taking the biggest bows.

That’s something you wouldn’t have been able to say nine months ago.