Opponents of a Mohegan Sun casino plan in Revere say the developer failed to meet state application requirements by submitting hundreds of pages of environmental documents from a defunct casino plan by Suffolk Downs and Caesars Entertainment, the gambling giant that exited the Massachusetts competition in October.
“This raises yet another instance where Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs are attempting to undermine the spirit and the letter of the gaming law,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria of Everett, who supports a rival Wynn Resorts casino project in his city, said in a statement. “By submitting another project’s development documents in their application, Mohegan Sun has clearly shown that their project does not conform to the Gaming Commission’s requirements and lacks merit.”
The gambling commission’s extensive regulations require all casino developers to file thousands of pages of documents describing their projects, including “a copy of the applicant’s environmental notification form,” a part of the state’s environmental review process for projects under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. The commission’s final deadline for filing application documents was Dec. 31.
As part of its application, Mohegan Sun submitted an environmental form titled “Caesars Resort at Suffolk Downs,” which meticulously describes a failed plan to build a gambling resort on the East Boston side of the thoroughbred racetrack that straddles the city line with Revere. That earlier casino plan died Nov. 5, when East Boston voters rejected the proposal in a referendum. Mohegan Sun wants to build on the other side of the track property, in Revere.
Mohegan Sun, in a company statement, said the environmental document it filed “speaks directly to regional impacts that must be addressed under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act” and that the company will file a notice with state officals explaining the changes to the project by the end of the month.
“The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is aware that we will be filing a notice of project change by Jan. 31, and they have indicated to us that is completely acceptable,” said Mohegan Sun.
Suffolk Downs and former partner Caesars were well along in the environmental review process when Caesars withdrew over concerns it would fail a state background check. East Boston voters then rejected the proposal on the same day that Revere voters endorsed it.
By the end of November, Suffolk Downs had regrouped from the loss and struck a deal to lease 42 acres of its property in Revere to Mohegan Sun. The Connecticut gambling company had just lost a casino referendum in Palmer and had only weeks to assemble an application for Revere before the commission’s year-end deadline for all documents supporting the bid. The developers plan to build entirely on the Revere side to avoid making Boston a host community.
Under the arrangement between Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs, the racetrack would be the casino’s landlord, not its owner. The state gambling commission is treating the Mohegan Sun plan as a new project, not a modification of the old Suffolk Downs proposal. The commission waived one of its deadlines to permit Revere to hold a referendum on the new project in February, though commissioners made clear that Mohegan Sun had to meet all other deadlines.
Matt Cameron, a lawyer working with the casino opposition group No Eastie Casino, said that Mohegan Sun “filed what they had” in the short time frame. “That’s what you get for pulling an all-nighter,” he said. The group intends to press the issue with the gambling commission and will contend that the application is incomplete.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston also raised the issue in a letter filed with the commission Monday, in which he questioned how the environmental information filed by Mohegan Sun related to the current proposal.
The new mayor, through a spokeswoman, said Wednesday that he had cited the documents to support his case that the city needs more information from Mohegan Sun
to determine whether Boston
has a claim to be a host community.
Gambling commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the panel is still reviewing the submissions and that “determining the completeness of the applications is part of that review process.
“But as a policy, the commission has tried to get to the substance of matters and not just technicalities,” she said.
If Revere voters endorse the Mohegan Sun project in the Feb. 25 referendum, the project would compete with a plan by Wynn Resorts to build a gambling resort on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett.
The commission expects to choose a winner in May.