BOSTON (AP) – The Massachusetts Gaming Commission released its written decision Thursday denying Boston residents the right to vote on casino proposals for neighboring Revere and Everett, as casino opponents called for a state investigation into the Boston-area casino licensing process.
The commission voted last week to deny Boston’s request to be named a “host community” for Wynn’s proposed $1.5 billion casino on a former industrial site in Everett and for Mohegan Sun’s more than $1 billion project on land in Revere to be leased from the Suffolk Downs horse racing track.
State law sets out the number and locations for casino gambling, and the commission plans to pick the winner of the state’s east region casino license by the end of August. The host community designation would have allowed Boston residents to vote on the proposals.
The 11-page decision Thursday set out the commission’s legal arguments for its vote last week.
Still, the commission has designated Boston a “surrounding community,” which would entitle the city to financial compensation from the region’s winning casino. The city and casinos have about a month to negotiate agreements without an arbitrator.
Meanwhile, the anti-casino group “No Eastie Casino” delivered a letter to the offices of Inspector General Glenn Cunha and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin seeking investigations into the licensing process.
“We are demanding a full independent investigation of the (commission’s) apparent intent to withhold a crucial lease provision between Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs which would have given Boston an even stronger claim to host community status,” Matt Cameron, a lawyer for the group, said.
The group, which helped defeat a proposed casino on the East Boston side of the Suffolk Downs property last year, accuses the commission of “apparent collusion” with the race track and Mohegan Sun. It says a provision in Mohegan Sun’s lease gave it the option to take over the track but was removed prior to the commission decision last week.
In its written decision, the commission said it rejected the city’s reasoning that the two projects amount to a joint venture, with the track serving as an amenity to the proposed casino complex. Commissioners said the track entrance wasn’t near the proposed entrance of the casino and the two facilities have different owners.
The commission also rejected Boston’s arguments that it should be designated a host community for the Wynn project because the road leading to the property is partly located in the city and that the casino’s “cross marketing agreements” with TD Garden and the Boston Symphony Orchestra qualified the city for the host designation.
A spokesman for Mayor Martin Walsh has said the city is weighing whether to challenge the commission ruling.