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Gaming commission chairman says Everett casino interest good for competition

Stephen Crosby, chairman of the State Gaming Commission, said developer Steve Wynn’s ­interest in building a casino in Everett could stir competition for the one casino license available in Eastern Massachusetts.

“We’ve been encouraging competition across the state,” Crosby said in a brief interview Wednesday, following his ­address to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce in ­Danvers. “I think the public will be much better served if there is more than one proposal.”

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He noted that six casino companies are interested in a single license available for Western Massachusetts. But until Wynn came along, a ­license available for Greater Boston had drawn interest only from a proposal at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

Crosby said he had not ­spoken with Wynn, a Las Vegas casino developer. But he did speak with officials in Everett. “We gave them some advice about what the law provides for local communities, their interests,” he said.

Wynn is considering the former site of a Monsanto chemical plant on the Mystic River. His interest comes after a $1 billion casino proposed for ­Foxborough failed to garner support of selectmen.

Wynn, who toured the ­Everett site Wednesday, has not said if he will submit an application to the state’s five-
member gambling commission. But the Globe reported that he also said he would not go forward with a casino unless the host community supported it.

In his speech to the chamber, Crosby said the state’s gambling law requires a local referendum to be held before a ­casino can be licensed.

“There will not be a casino in any community that does not want a casino,” Crosby told about 500 business and civic leaders who attended the meeting at Danversport Yacht Club. “There has to be a referendum on an agreement with a casino operator before it gets to us.”

The gambling commission is charged with licensing three ­casinos, each of which would be located in a region of the state: Western, Eastern, and Southeastern Massachusetts. Each casino project would create an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 construction jobs and the same number of permanent jobs, Crosby said.

The law requires a developer to sign agreements with cities and towns surrounding the community hosting a casino, Crosby said. “They don’t get a license ­until they have a signed agreement with every surrounding community that would be ­impacted,” he said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached
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