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Plan set in case of tie on Greater Boston casino license

In the event of a 2-to-2 tie among the four gambling commissioners responsible for awarding the Greater Boston casino license, the commission will turn to the applicants, Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts, for help in breaking the deadlock.

They may ask the applicants for more details on their proposals or for new presentations on their elaborate projects, with the hope of reaching a consensus, commissioners decided Thursday.

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As a final option, if new information fails to break the tie, the commission may ask the applicants to sweeten their proposals in a new round of head-to-head competition, until one developer goes far enough to earn the essential third vote to win the license.

“The likelihood, I think, is nonexistent that after going through these tools that we’d still be tied,” gambling commissioner James McHugh said in comments to reporters Thursday. “It’s just not going to happen.”

The prospect of a tie cropped up this month, when the chairman of the five-
member commission, Stephen Crosby, removed himself from the debate over the Greater Boston resort casino license, leaving his four colleagues to choose between the Mohegan Sun project at Suffolk Downs in Revere and the Wynn casino proposal on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett.

Over the commission’s two-year history, the panel has made nearly all its decisions by consensus, and split votes have been extremely rare. Commissioners insist that the threat of a deadlock in the Boston-area license sweepstakes is remote.

Yet, the commission asked its staff two weeks ago to research ways other boards and commissions break tie votes when they have an even number of members.

Pushing the applicants to improve their projects until one proposal wins a third vote “is really going to be unnecessary, but it is the show stopper at the end that will break this tie if in fact it exists,” McHugh said.

The tactic should be effective because the commission’s deliberations take place entirely in public, so the casino companies will know exactly where their proposals are considered weak, he said.

“You could say to both applicants, here are a couple of areas in which you’ve heard about deficiencies,” McHugh said. “Go out and fix those deficiencies and tell us what the fix is.

“Or you could say . . . come back and tell us what you think the remedy is for what you’ve heard.”

With new proposals tailored to address specific objections from commissioners, “we ultimately are going to get there,” McHugh said.

Crosby recused himself from the debate this month, acknowledging that some of his recent actions, including his attendance at a party at Suffolk Downs, the racetrack where Mohegan Sun wants to build its Revere casino, had raised questions about his impartiality.

He had already recused himself in December from a commission review of Wynn Resorts’ land deal in Everett, because Crosby is a former business partner of one of the owners of the proposed casino site.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at Mark.Arsenault@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @bostonglobemark.
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