Walsh: No regrets on pro-casino vote
Won’t say if lawsuit in works on host bid
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he doesn’t regret his votes as a state rep to open the state to casino gaming even as he presses the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for a designation that would probably undermine casinos in the Greater Boston area.
The commission is expected to rule today on Boston’s claim that it should be designated a host community for the proposed casinos in Revere and Everett. If Boston wins host community status, the proposed Wynn Resorts casino in Everett would be required to win the support of Charlestown residents and the proposed Mohegan Sun/Brigade Capital casino in Revere would be required to win the support of residents in East Boston.
Most analysts believe both communities would vote against a casino. East Boston residents already voted against a casino at Suffolk Downs in November, which prompted the casino’s backers to bring in Mohegan Sun and Brigade Capital and move the project to a portion of the horse track located in Revere.
At an event in the Public Garden on Wednesday, Walsh said he continues to believe that the city deserves host community status for both casinos and that Gaming Commission chairman Stephen Crosby has prejudged the issue by making prejudicial comments about Boston’s claim. The city has also questioned whether the Gaming Commission has the authority to rule on host community status.
Walsh also said he doesn’t regret voting several times to support expanded gaming while he was serving in the Legislature. He wouldn’t say whether Boston will file suit against the commission if it rules against the city on host community status. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about Plan B yet.”
A lawsuit would be problematic. State law defines a host community as “a municipality in which a gaming establishment is located” and defines a gaming establishment as “a gaming area and any other nongaming structure related to the gaming area and may include, but shall not be limited to, hotels, restaurants, or other amenities.”The 2011 law that created the Gaming Commission gave the commission the authority to designate which municipalities are surrounding communities to a proposed gaming establishment and entitled to negotiate for casino impact compensation. By implication, it would appear the right to designate surrounding communities would give the commission the power to designate host communities.
The 2011 gaming statute says the power and authority granted to the commission “shall be construed as broadly as necessary for the implementation, administration, and enforcement of this chapter.”