The casino competition in Massachusetts gets real today. Would-be developers have until 5 pm Tuesday to apply for a casino license and submit a non-refundable $400,000 deposit. The deadline, which comes nearly a year after Massachusetts legalized casino gambling, marks the end of an extended period of quiet wrangling, maneuvering, lobbying and posturing, and the beginning of the bruising final push toward the state’s four gambling licenses.
The competition has rounded into shape over the past week. Western Massachusetts, the least populated of the state’s three casino regions, is also the scene of the most crowded competition for a license. That fact likely says less about the appeal of Springfield and Palmer as gambling destinations than it says about the way lawmakers wired the other two regions for Boston and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Large casino firms Penn National, MGM Resorts and Hard Rock International are all chasing a license around Springfield, while the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, owners of the Mohegan Sun tribal casino in Connecticut, are guarding their flank by bidding on a license for Palmer.
The situation is more unsettled in the Boston region, which stretches from Worcester to Boston Harbor to the New Hampshire border. The region looked like it was drawn to give Suffolk Downs an inside shot at the state’s most lucrative license, but that calculus has been upended by the late entrance of a pair of competitors. The Globe reports today that Chicago gambling firm Rush Street Gaming will apply for a license in the Boston region without having nailed down a casino location yet. And then there’s Everett. Steve Wynn, broomed out of Foxborough by a wave of anti-casino protests, has found a more welcoming reception in the riverfront industrial city.
You know Wynn is for real when Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who became a gambling supporter once his friend Joe O’Donnell became part of the Suffolk Downs deal, starts shooting thinly-veiled threats across the Mystic River at Wynn. Last week, he noted that “ I own part of the Everett piece,” and that “to get into the piece, you have to go through my property.” Aha. “They never spoke to me.” Hizzoner also added: “Heh heh. Ha ha ha ha ha. Hahaah.” He later insisted that “I was being a little wise,” and wasn’t really threatening to derail the Las Vegas developer’s Everett deal. What he didn’t do was clarify how being an elected municipal head makes Route 99, a state road running from Charlestown to Everett, “my property.”
Also of note: In addition to being the deadline for getting in line for a gambling license, Tuesday is the deadline for casino developers and other Beacon Hill power players to report their final 2012 lobbying expenses to the secretary of state’s office. So by the end of the day, we’ll know both who’s for real in the casino game, and how much it cost to get there.
Governing gives a lot of the credit for the state’s high credit rating — its highest ever — to Jay Gonzalez, who just left as secretary of administration and finance.
Joe Battenfeld gets a preview of Tim Murray’s pre-election reinvention. It’s heavy on family and Deval Patrick, and light on Mike McLaughlin.
The Fall River Housing Authority voted to appoint state Rep. David Sullivan to the $115,000 executive director post over the objections of one longtime member who called Sullivan “the least qualified and most politically connected” candidate.
Saugus Selectman Stephen Horlick walks on assault charges after his alleged victim refuses to testify and leaves court with him, the Item reports.
After five years of wrangling, Newburyport defeats a measure designed to protect historic homes from demolition.
The Globe looks at the “insatiable curiosity and omnipresent cause” that drove Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on Friday. The paper also examines the debate that Swartz’s prosecution by federal officials in Boston has prompted. Kevin Cullen rips federal prosecutors for their overzealous pursuit of felony charges against Swartz. WBUR’s David Boeri reports US Attorney Carmen Ortiz is under fire. Yesterday’s Download had this run-down of the reporting and commentary then available on Swartz’s death, including a statement by his family and a poignant post by his mentor, Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School.
New York is poised to become the first state to pass gun control legislation since Newtown, the Albany Times-Union reports. The bill focuses heavily on mental health issues. The White House is readying its own national gun control push, and is willing to use executive orders if it runs into static in Congress.
President Obama dares debt ceiling hawks to do what they will to the hostage they’ve taken. Economist Alan Blinder argues that the debt ceiling standoff is far scarier than the fiscal cliff.
Another George Bush, this time George P. Bush, is raising money for a run for office in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Sen. Marco Rubio presses Republicans on immigration.
Americans are drinking more water and wine, and far less soda and cheap beer.
Everett principal Erick Naumann comes under fire for producing a video for students in which he plays the part of the Terminator, NECN reports.
Journalism classes go online and attract massive audiences, the Nieman Journalism Lab reports.
CREDO, the Stanford University research center whose earlier work is often touted by charter school critics, releases another report showing charters outperforming their district school counterparts, this time in Michigan.
Metro West colleges explain what they are doing to stem the spread of flu among students returning from break.
Hingham officials are eyeing a moratorium on permitting medical marijuana dispensaries until they can craft regulations governing the pot stores.
CommonWealth’s Paul McMorrow looks at the politics behind Gov. Deval Patrick’s roll-out of a transportation plan that calls for $1 billion a year in new spending — but doesn’t pinpoint where the money should come from. The Globe account of Patrick’s plan is here. The plan includes $1.8 billion for the South Coast Rail project, a proposal Patrick calls “non-negotiable.” State representatives in the Berkshires comment on Patrick’s transportation plan. The Berkshire Eagle gives it a thumbs up. Legislative leaders are noncommittal.
JetBlue may be coming to Worcester Regional Airport
Walden Pond is as good a place as any to see the effects of climate change, Time reports.
A Scituate couple suing the town’s Board of Health over a nearby wind turbine had earlier signed a confidential agreement and was paid $20,000 not to contest the turbine when it was first proposed.
Several civil rights groups are asking Attorney General Martha Coakley to open an investigation into the shooting death of a New Bedford teen last May by city police, claiming the death was a result of “aggressive” and “forceful” actions by police.
A New York woman is sentenced to two years in prison for sending threats and white powder to Coakley and Scott Brown.
The Atlantic pulls a Scientology advertorial that drew a lot of criticism from Salon (“reads like North Korean propaganda”) and Gawker (“bizarre, blatant Scientology propaganda”). The controversy erupts on the eve of the publication of an investigative book on Scientology by New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright.
CNET editors awarded their best of the Consumer Electronics Show award to the Dish Network’s Hopper set-top box, but then had to backtrack when corporate parent CBS said it was in litigation with Dish over the box’s ability to skip past commercials automatically. CNET’s editor explains what happened here. CNET reporter Greg Sandoval quits, Romanesko reports. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s report.
Romanesko posts a belt-tightening memo from Chazy Dowaliby, the editor of GateHouse Media’s Patriot Ledger and Enterprise, but notes that while GateHouse won’t be buying their reporters coffee, the company does have the money to pay an $800,000 bonus to CEO Michael Reed.
Lance Armstrong gears up for the big I-used-performance-enhancing-drugs confessional with Oprah, NPR (via WBUR) reports. The Wall Street Journal looks inside Armstrong’s decision to quit denying his drug use.Bedbugs overrun the offices of the Wall Street Journal.
This Sunday or, if the Patriots win, two weeks later on Super Bowl Sunday will be the final game after 36 years for Gil Santos, the only voice most fans have ever heard call a Pats game on radio.