Steve Wynn, poor rich guy
Egomaniacal casino billionaires do not generally make for the most sympathetic figures. But Boston officials are doing their best to make you root for Steve Wynn in the casino showdown heating up between his proposed Everett gambling complex and the one Mayor Tom Menino is determined to see built at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.
Ever since Wynn first floated the idea of a casino at a former Monsanto chemical company site in Everett, hard by the Mystic River, city officials in Boston have hinted that they might argue the development nicks the Everett-Boston border, giving Boston a say in the project as a “host community” under the 2011 state gambling law. That would include the right to reject any proposal outright, something Menino would seem all too eager to do in order to clear the way for Suffolk Downs to the be sole Boston proposal on the table.
In yesterday’s Globe, Mark Arsenault reports that the Menino administration appears to be following through on the threat. He writes that the mayor’s Host Community Advisory Committee sent a letter on July 11 to a local consultant working for Wynn saying that discussions with Wynn officials and environmental filings Wynn has made with the state “lead us to the conclusion that Boston would appear to be a host community to the proposed Wynn resort.” Boston officials made a similar claim, the Globe reports, in a letter to Richard Sullivan, the state’s energy and environmental affairs secretary.
In June, Everett voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot question endorsing the casino proposal, and Wynn fired back last week at the threats from Boston officials. “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.
The technical argument Boston is putting forth — that some road, landscaping, or harbor improvements related to an Everett casino could cross the municipal boundary and qualify Boston as a host community — seem tenuous at best. But Menino evidently can’t stand the idea that the gambling commission could decide to approve the one Eastern Massachusetts casino license for somewhere other than Boston, so he’s trying not to leave anything to chance.
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