Casino border wars

Let’s take a moment to retrace the steps of Mohegan Sun Resorts in and around Massachusetts.

The tribal-owned company opened a casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, in 1996. The casino became wildly successful, pumping billions of dollars into the coffers of the state of Connecticut and the Mohegan tribe. A key reason for the casino’s success was the large number of customers pouring over the border from Massachusetts.

In 2007, Mohegan Sun gained control of 150 acres of land in Palmer. Four years later, Massachusetts approved casino gambling, and Mohegan Sun began vying for the western Massachusetts casino license. That bid stalled in 2013 when Palmer voters rejected the Mohegan Sun casino proposal by 93 votes — 94 after a recount.

Less than a month later, Mohegan Sun joined forces with Suffolk Downs in Revere in a bid to win the eastern Massachusetts casino license. Mohegan Sun’s chief rival for the license was Wynn Resorts, which wanted to build a casino in Everett.

Steve Wynn, the head of Wynn Resorts, mocked Mohegan Sun mercilessly, saying the casino operator was only pursuing the license in Massachusetts to protect its flagship casino in Connecticut. He noted Mohegan Sun pays no tax on table games in Connecticut but would face a 25 percent tax in Massachusetts.

“You’d have to be critically handicapped not to see that, from a Massachusetts point of view, it’s a disqualifier,” Wynn said. “To pick Mohegan Sun, if you represent the state of Massachusetts, is an act of gross irresponsibility.”

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission late last year awarded the eastern Massachusetts license to Wynn Resorts by a 3-1 vote, but Mohegan Sun did not go away. The company is currently pursuing a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court to overturn the license award to Wynn and also financing a similar lawsuit brought by Revere. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone filed similar lawsuits.

In June, Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy signed into law legislation paving the way for the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot (Foxwoods) tribes to build a casino on non-tribal land to blunt or possibly deal a fatal blow to a proposed MGM Resorts casino in Springfield. In September, the two tribes signed an agreement to pursue the new casino project. MGM, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit challenging Connecticut’s no-bid arrangement with the two tribes to build a casino on non-tribal land.

What all this maneuvering tells you is that Mohegan Sun — and the state of Connecticut — are very worried about the impact of Massachusetts casinos on the casino businesses in Connecticut and willing to do just about anything to blunt their impact.

A Boston Globe overview of the challenge to MGM included this telling quote from Kevin Brown, the chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. “This is about siphoning revenues from Connecticut to benefit a Las Vegas company while at the same time moving thousands of existing jobs from Connecticut to Massachusetts,” he said.

BRUCE MOHL

 

BEACON HILL

Massachusetts leaders now say fantasy sports websites need to be regulated. Joan Vennochi wonders what took Attorney General Maura Healey so long to get on the stick. (Boston Globe) Boston-based DraftKings, one of the two huge national players in the sector, hires former attorney general Martha Coakley as an advisor. (MassLive)

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg say they have concerns about the powers given to doctors in Gov. Charlie Baker‘s opioid bill. (State House News)

Baker wants insurance companies to help cover Uber and Lyft drivers. (Boston Business Journal).

An Eagle-Tribune editorial slams a bill filed by Rep. Nick Collins of South Boston seeking to exempt from the Public Records Law any documents related to reviews of police officers that could lead to disciplinary action.

The new head of the state Office of the Child Advocate, Maria Mossaides, wants to see the agency given more muscle. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera files 103 objections to 84 signatures submitted by opponents seeking an election to recall him. The opponents need 100 certified voter signatures to launch their recall effort. (Eagle-Tribune)

Possible headline of the day: “City targets sewage odor,” reports the Eagle-Tribune, referring to Haverhill efforts to track down the causes of foul odors.

The Springfield Republican wants the city’s business community to get its collective act together in order to attract the former PawSox AAA team.

After an override failed, a Bourne special town meeting approves laying off employees and making service cuts. (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

A lawsuit challenging the MBTA’s sale of land in Everett to Wynn Resorts is tossed by Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders. (Boston Herald)

Keller@Large says the Massachusetts casino law has come up snake eyes.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Obama’s approval rating hits a 30-month high at 51 percent. (Time)

A federal appeals court upholds new gun laws in Connecticut and New York, setting the stage for an appeal by gun advocates to the US Supreme Court. (Governing)

Barney Frank, relieved from the constraints of electoral politics — as if that ever stopped him anyway — says voters upset with the chaos in Congress and the candidacies of frontrunners such as Donald Trump need look no further than the mirror for reasons why. (Standard-Times)

ELECTIONS

Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party rode to a stunning upset win in Canadian elections, with the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau now slated to take the reins his father once held, replacing Conservative leader Stephen Harper. (Globe & Mail) Here’s a USA Today primer on the man who was mocked by Conservatives for his “nice hair.” Unfortunately for Trudeau, he is always compared to his dad and is widely regarded to have fallen far from the tree. (Christian Science Monitor)

Fall River City Councilor Jasiel Carreia, running for mayor against incumbent Mayor Sam Sutter, accused Sutter of spending more than $140,000 of city funds on outside legal fees with much of the work going to lawyers who have donated to his campaign. (Herald News)

Democratic state Rep. Michael Brady of Brockton called for regulating fantasy sports while Rep. Geoff Diehl, a Republican from Whitman, said the industry shouldn’t have government oversight as the two squared off in a debate at Stonehill College in their race in the special election for the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Thomas Kennedy. (The Enterprise)

State Sen. Robert Hedlund says his ties to the Baker administration and his 22 years in the Senate would be beneficial to Weymouth should he win the election for mayor over incumbent Mayor Sue Kay. (Patriot Ledger)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson interviews the mother of a Navy Seal killed in the Benghazi attack whose likeness is being used in an ad attacking Hillary Clinton. Barbara Doherty says the ad is “in the poorest of taste.”

A Herald editorial likes the idea of Joe Biden jumping in the Democratic race.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Franklin Realty Partners of Wellesley completes the purchase of a 10-acre parcel of land in downtown Worcester for $32.5 million. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Globe editorial decries federal home loan agency Fannie Mae‘s practice of auctioning off foreclosed properties rather than making sure they are sold with a plan to help address the shortage of affordable housing.

Just how costly is housing in the region? Families earning up to nearly $120,000 a year, who would be considered well-off in many parts of the country, qualify for an affordable housing lottery in Cambridge for units set aside at below-market rents. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Amy Dain says Jeff Riley’s attempted turnaround of the Lawrence public schools goes way beyond the schools. (CommonWealth)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

A breakthrough federally funded study finds talk therapy has had better results with patients suffering from schizophrenia than the common drug therapy prescribed by doctors. (New York Times)

Advances in helping people survive cancer have come with unintended side effects such as sterility for young women and cardiac problems for patients getting chemotherapy. (U.S. News & World Report)

TRANSPORTATION

A Boston Herald editorial says MBTA fare hikes are inevitable.

The Herald‘s Jessica Van Sack thinks the Federal Aviation Administration should butt out of the business of regulating “recreational drones.”

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute says it has been the target of a cyber attack dating back nearly a year and half that was aimed at research activity at the world-renowned nonprofit marine science center. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Former Ludlow police officer Tom Foye, who after 22 years on the force had a good shot at becoming chief, lost it all when he developed an addiction to opiates that landed him in jail when he pilfered drugs from the department’s evidence room to feed his habit and now speaks to law enforcement and medical professionals about the dangers of prescription narcotics. (Greater Boston)

A livery driver from Quincy was sentenced to six to eight years in jail after he was convicted of kidnapping, raping, and robbing a victim who flagged him down in Boston’s Seaport District believing he was a taxi because of his license plate. (Patriot Ledger)

Whitey Bulger’s longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig pleads not guilty to charge of contempt. (WBUR) Her lawyer, Kevin Reddington, tells Peter Gelzinis she knows nothing about where more of Bulger’s loot might be hidden, but would say anything if she did. (Boston Herald)

Stockbridge steps up its crime-fighting efforts. (Berkshire Eagle)

An Alabama judge is under fire for ordering scores of defendants owing overdue fines to either pay up or donate blood under threat of jail. (New York Times)

SPORTS

Travis Roy, the former Boston University hockey player paralyzed in the first 11 seconds of his college career when he went headfirst into the boards, talks about his life and his foundation to find a cure for paralysis on the 20th anniversary of that tragic night. (Greater Boston)