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Wynn to give hiring preference to Suffolk Downs employees

Union calls vow a ploy in casino tiff

The latest rendering of the Wynn casino proposed in Everett.

Wynn Everett

The latest rendering of the Wynn casino proposed in Everett.

Wynn Resorts has a suggestion for Suffolk Downs employees worried that the East Boston racetrack may close: Come work for us.

In the latest jab between rival Boston-area casino proposals, Wynn has pledged to give hiring preferences to Suffolk Downs employees if Wynn’s $1.6 billion Everett casino proposal wins the Greater Boston resort casino license.

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“Our commitment of jobs to Suffolk Downs workers is further proof that a five-star Wynn Resort in Everett will have the most positive employment and economic impact in the region,” Robert DeSalvio, senior vice president of development at Wynn, said in a statement. “The training program we are offering racetrack workers is a valuable component. For many, this will be the pathway to a new career.”

The move is both a poke at competitor Mohegan Sun, which has proposed a casino on Suffolk Downs property in Revere, and an effort to undercut one of the arguments for awarding the license to the Revere proposal. Mohegan Sun supporters have argued that without the lease payments from a casino on its property, the racetrack may close and racing jobs would be lost. Suffolk Downs officials promised in January to continue horse racing for at least 15 years if Mohegan Sun wins.

Suffolk Downs representatives who back the Mohegan Sun proposal were not amused by Wynn’s offer.

Anthony Spadea, president of the New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, called the offer “a hollow gesture and more gamesmanship from the Wynn-Everett team.”

“Dozens of family farms and thousands of acres of working open space in the Commonwealth depend on the continuation of thoroughbred racing,” Spadea said in a statement. “Our members deserve the same chance to grow their businesses as the horsemen and women from every racing state from Maine to Florida where expanded gambling has helped solidify the states’ racing industries.”

Wynn Resorts, led by developer Steve Wynn, may be mandated by law to offer hiring preferences to some Suffolk Downs employees, if Wynn wins the license and Suffolk Downs closes within a year, according to the state casino law, which was approved in 2011.

Louis Ciarlone, business agent for IBEW Local 103, which represents 140 workers at Suffolk Downs, said, “Mr. Wynn’s gesture, which is really him complying with the gaming law as any other applicant would be required, is of little consolation to the workers that I represent whose livelihoods would be improved significantly with the preservation and enhancement of racing at Suffolk Downs.”

The state gambling commission is currently reviewing the Wynn and Mohegan Sun applications and plans to choose a winner in August or September, though that schedule could change. The commission has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to discuss a request by Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston to freeze the licensing process until voters statewide decide a casino repeal referendum in November.

The rival casino applicants have attacked each other in public hearings, in interviews, and in paid advertisements, as each has sought an advantage with regulators who will award the lucrative license.

Mark Arsenault can be reached at Mark.Arsenault@
Globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @BostonGlobeMark
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