After the town of Everett approved a casino project plan by developer Steve Wynn, many observers believed he had the upper hand in gaining the Greater Boston-area casino license – one of three regional licenses that will be awarded by the state of Massachusetts. But it turns out that geographical quirks may make Wynn’s prospects of opening a casino there a little tougher than he thought.
According to members of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s administration, Wynn may not have been as careful as he thought with his casino proposal. It seems that some of the proposed development may be located within the city of Boston itself, which would give the city the right to affect the project themselves.
If it were true that the Wynn proposal were to reside partially in Boston, then the city would be considered a host community, and would have the ability to influence how – and if – the project could go forward. In fact, Mayor Menino would even have the ability to simply say no to the project, scuttling it entirely.
Menino may have good reason to do so. He has come out in support of a competing casino plan that would place the resort at Suffolk Downs, and eliminating perhaps the strongest competitor for the license would go a long way towards getting that plan selected by the state.
However, Wynn doesn’t believe that Menino’s claims hold any weight.
“Our company comes to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts expecting fairness and transparency, and we fail to understand Mayor Menino’s continued efforts to frustrate a project that has the power to transform the city of Everett, bringing economic opportunity that has eluded it for decades,” Wynn said in a statement. “We understand that the mayor favors another horse in this race, but we intend to remain focused on our project in Everett…By any reading, the host community for our project is the city of Everett.”
The city of Boston bases its claims on environmental documents filed by Wynn with the state. Boston’s city line takes an odd shape, sometimes moving across the Mystic River and including the edge of the former Monsanto plant that the casino will be built on. While there’s no doubt that none of the buildings in the casino would be located in Boston, there may be landscaping or harbor improvements that would technically be within Boston city lines.
At the moment, the issue remains unresolved.
“The Host Community Advisory Committee doesn’t know whether the city of Boston is a host community [for the Wynn proposal], but in order to properly do our job we need to find out more about the development,” said Brian Leary, chairman of Menino’s casino advisory committee.
Even if Boston is not a host community, they would be considered a surrounding community, meaning they could receive compensation based on how the development affects the city – but they wouldn’t have the power to kill the casino altogether.