Boston Mayor Martin Walsh petitioned the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Monday to grant Boston host community status for the proposed Mohegan Sun and Wynn resort destination casinos.
The petition also asked the Gaming Commission to reconsider the city’s request for an extension to look through the 43,000 pages of documents that were sent to the city. The commission previously denied the request on Friday
“I am disappointed in the Gaming Commission’s failure to grant Boston the extension requested,” Walsh said in a press release on Friday. “Given the volume of the pages to be reviewed, and the extremely short time frame we have had available to review them, it is clear that the extension was not an unreasonable request.”
Walsh sent the petition in response to the extension denial, in addition to a variety of other requests.
“We believe this unrestricted route is the best path forward to protect the residents of East Boston and Charlestown, and the City of Boston as a whole,” he said in a Monday release. “These applicants must have a more open dialogue with the people of Boston, particularly those neighborhoods that will be most impacted.”
Walsh also said in the release that if there is any indication that Boston may be a host city for a casino, he reserves the right to withdraw from surrounding community negitiations. The city also petitioned the Gaming Commission to compel the Mohegan Sun and Wynn to cooperate with the City of Boston and provide any requested information, the press release said.
The Mohegan Sun and Wynn projects are currently competing for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license. One resort casino license is given in each of the three regions in Boston. The Mohegan and Wynn fall within the same region, as they are both located in eastern Massachusetts, said Elaine Driscoll, director of communications at the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
“We encourage all of our applicants to share as much information with potential surrounding communities as they are desiring to receive, so we’ve always encouraged our applicants to be cooperative with communities,” she said.
Mitchell Etess, the CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said he is optimistic the Mohegan Sun will form a positive relationship with the City of Boston
“We’re looking forward to working with the City of Boston to achieve a strong surrounding community agreement,” he said. “Mohegan Sun has a long track record of working closely with our neighboring communities, and we are excited at the opportunity to develop a world-class destination resort in Revere that will generate thousands of new jobs, economic development and additional tourism for the entire region.”
Some residents said Boston’s status as a host community could have significant positive implications on the community, but not everyone is convinced that the city should be involved with the casinos.
Kevin Backman, 30, of Brighton, said he is against casinos altogether and wishes the city would not try to attach itself to the new casino proposals.
“Personally, I don’t agree with casinos,” he said. “I have a really close friend that can’t stop himself from gambling, and I don’t support building more in the area. As far as funds go, I think the funds should go mostly to the community that the casino is in.”
Carlos Ardila, 30, of Boston, said Boston serving as a host community has the potential to greatly benefit the city.
“It’s a really good thing for Boston,” he said. “I don’t know if everyone would agree with that, but those casinos are going to attract more tourists, and that could be really good for the city of Boston and for Massachusetts.”
Eugene Tinsley, 27, of Brighton, said the benefits Boston could reap from the agreement must also be weighed with the complaints of the residents in the communities where the casinos may be built.
“As far as zoning issues are concerned, it could possibly be a bad idea,” he said. “I know a lot of residents in Everett are not too keen on having a casino in the area. I don’t live in either of the neighborhoods, so I can’t really speak for the residents of the neighborhood, but from an economic standpoint and a job standpoint, it could really bring a lot of jobs to Boston and help the economy.”