Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn will appear in Everett Wednesday with Mayor Carlo DeMaria to publicly address their discussions about Wynn’s interest in building a gambling resort on the Mystic River, according to the mayor’s office.
Wynn will also personally tour the proposed casino location, known as the former Monsanto Chemical site, for the first time. A top Wynn executive quietly visited the land within the past several weeks.
Political and community leaders in Everett sounded intrigued Tuesday by the advances from one of the biggest names in casino gambling.
“In a city that in the last five or six years saw virtually no substantial development, the fact that a developer of that magnitude is looking at that parcel is positive news for the people of Everett,” said Robert Van Campen, a member of the Everett Board of Aldermen, one of the city’s two legislative bodies.
News of Wynn’s interest in the city was confirmed Monday. Van Campen said the initial reaction from city voters is mixed: “At this stage of the game, it seems the community is divided over what is the right kind of development for Everett.”
Wynn spent several months in early 2012 pitching a $1 billion casino plan to Foxborough, on land near Gillette Stadium he intended to lease from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. But the casino billionaire was unable to persuade local voters to embrace the plan, and he abandoned the effort after town elections in May strengthened the anticasino leanings of the Board of Selectmen.
Wynn’s withdrawal left Suffolk Downs, in East Boston and Revere, as the only formal applicant for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license. The state gambling commission, which controls licenses for up to three resort casinos, has been trying to encourage more competition, to force developers to try to outdo one another with more innovative projects.
Michael Mangan, an Everett alderman, said he is inclined to support a casino on the riverfront. “The jobs would make it a no-brainer,” he said. “I just want to make sure the plans would be for a full-fledged resort, a destination, not just a casino.”
He has heard concerns from some residents who worry that a casino would bring problems, such as increased crime, compulsive gambling, and bankruptcies. “But I say if Suffolk Downs gets [a resort casino] and we don’t, we’d still have these same issues because we’re so close.”
Salvatore Sachetta, an alderman, said he enjoys casinos and Wynn properties, in particular, but questioned whether the city’s roads can handle the visitors a gambling resort would generate.
“I’m all for a casino, and I love to go to casinos; being elderly I have nothing else to do,” said Sachetta, who is 82. “But I don’t know how the hell they expect to put a casino there on that acreage.”
He said Everett’s traffic arteries, such as Main Street and Routes 16 and 99, are already congested with morning and evening commuters. “I’d be willing to listen, but they’d have to show me that this city would not be tied up with traffic,” said Sachetta, who has stayed at the Wynn Resort hotel in Las Vegas, and called it “the most fabulous casino they ever put up there.”
“I’m sure [Wynn] has got the money, but would he put it into the infrastructure we need to get in and out?” he said.
Stephen Rocco, an officer in the Everett Chamber of Commerce, sees “more positives than negatives” in Wynn’s interest in Everett. “Everett needs tax relief and the jobs would be a plus,” he said. The proposed location, “probably the least attractive part of Everett,” could benefit from a large-scale entertainment complex, Rocco said.
No casino proposal can win a state license unless the residents of the host community endorse the project in a referendum.
Rocco said he believes that a casino plan that includes “considerable tax relief” and a hiring preference for Everett residents would stand a strong chance of winning approval in a citywide referendum.
Councilor Michael J. McLaughlin, who represents the proposed development area, is withholding judgment, but said he is eager to learn more about plans, and he sounded intrigued by the potential of bringing several thousand jobs to the area.