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Firms to pitch dueling visions for area casino

Mohegan Sun, Wynn Resorts vying for license

The two gambling companies battling for the sole resort casino license in Greater Boston will compete head-to-head Wednesday afternoon in high-stakes public presentations before the state gambling commission.

The 90-minute presentations at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center have no set format: The developers, Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts Ltd., will use the time as they see fit to sell their projects to the five commissioners who will decide which one wins the license.

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Mohegan Sun will go first, beginning its presentation at 1 p.m. The company’s team will be led by Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, and by Kevin P. Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council.

Mohegan Sun is a newcomer to the Greater Boston casino sweepstakes, after working several years to win a casino license in the Western Massachusetts town of Palmer. The tribe lost a referendum in Palmer in November and quickly changed gears and struck a deal to lease land in Revere from Suffolk Downs racetrack for a gambling resort there.

Suffolk Downs also lost a casino referendum in November, in East Boston. But Revere voters approved the project, and track officials almost immediately began to explore ways to move any casino plans at the thoroughbred track across the city line into Revere.

The gambling commission is treating the Mohegan Sun proposal as a new project, and it waived one of its deadlines so Revere can hold a citywide referendum on the new proposal Feb. 25.

Wynn Resorts is scheduled to begin its presentation Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Chairman Steve Wynn, who has developed several famous Las Vegas hotels, including The Bellagio, The Mirage, and the Wynn and Encore resorts, is expected to lead the company’s delegation.

After unsuccessfully pitching a suburban gambling resort in Foxborough in early 2012, Wynn later proposed an urban hotel casino on vacant former industrial land on the Mystic River in Everett. City voters overwhelmingly endorsed the proposal in a referendum last June, with 86 percent in favor.

The one applicant for the Western Massachusetts resort casino license, MGM Resorts, will make its presentation Thursday morning, a day later than originally scheduled, due to snow. The MGM presentation team will be led by chief executive James Murren and president Bill Hornbuckle.

On Tuesday, 17 casino opponents, eight from East Boston and nine from Revere, gathered at the city line near Suffolk Downs to denounce the commission’s decision to allow Mohegan Sun to proceed with a Revere-only casino proposal.

“You can stand with one foot in East Boston and one foot in Revere,” said Celeste Myers, an organizer of No Eastie Casino, standing in a spot across from the racetrack, where she said the city lines meet. “They’re really trying to draw some kind of line on paper to separate people’s perceptions that a Revere casino would not impact East Boston. That’s clearly a fallacy.”

Joseph Catricala, an organizer of Don’t Gamble On Revere, said the group plans to canvass the city, handing out fliers and letters urging residents to vote no.

The group dispersed after standing for 30 minutes in frigid temperatures.

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the gambling commission, said in a statement that “subject to the upcoming referendum in Revere, the commission has balanced . . . conflicting interests as carefully as we possibly can.”

Kathy McCabe of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.
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