Wynn Resorts offers Boston $1m upfront, $2.6m annually
Wynn Resorts has offered the City of Boston $1 million upfront and $2.6 million annually, along with hiring preferences for city residents, as compensation to offset the possible effects of a planned hotel and gambling resort on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett.
It is the richest deal Wynn offered to any community around the company’s planned resort, but far less than the $18 million annual payment promised to Boston by a rival applicant, Mohegan Sun, which is proposing a Revere casino.
“We followed the applicable regulation to create a package which mitigates the actual and true impacts of our project and is almost three times the value of our largest existing surrounding community agreement,” Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said in a statement.
The company’s offer, publicly released Friday by state gambling regulators, is not the final word on a compensation package for Boston. It will be up to the state gambling commission to determine how much Boston would receive from Wynn. The commission can impose a greater compensation package if commissioners believe Boston deserves more to offset the effects of the development.
The commission’s staff is researching the potential effects of the Everett project on Boston, especially on the nearby Charlestown neighborhood, and the commission may schedule a public hearing to take comments from residents.
As competitors for the sole Greater Boston resort casino license, Wynn and Mohegan Sun are each required to have compensation packages with the communities that surround their projects, including Boston.
Wynn Resorts, run by casino developer Steve Wynn, had prepared its offer in anticipation of entering arbitration with Boston, after the two sides were unable to reach a negotiated agreement. Wynn has won arbitration hearings with Chelsea and Somerville, settling compensation packages worth about $650,000 annually with each community. The cities had asked for more.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh last week announced that his administration would not participate in the arbitration, leaving the state gambling commission in charge of setting the city’s compensation package.
The mayor has clashed with the commission about his bid to gain more power over the two gambling proposals, which the commission rejected.
“They’ve made all the decisions along the way for Boston up to this point,” Walsh said last week, referring to the commission. “I’m going to let them make the decision for Boston on what benefits Boston should get if they choose the Wynn proposal.”
The compensation agreement that Walsh negotiated with Mohegan Sun is the richest deal in the state for a community that does not have a casino project within its borders, and it shows a clear difference in strategy between the two rival casino companies.
Mohegan Sun hopes its large deal with Boston will give it an edge in competition with Wynn by showing the gambling commission that the company would be civic-minded and easy to regulate if it wins the license.
“From the very beginning, we’ve approached our conversations with the City of Boston in the same way we approached them with other surrounding communities: with a true spirit of cooperation,” said Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, in a statement Friday. “Today, it is clear that Steve Wynn has not.”
Wynn has cited regulations that require developers to compensate communities for known effects of the development, which has generally meant effects on traffic and public safety. Wynn prevailed in arbitration with Somerville and Chelsea because the cities could not document some of the potential costs they had claimed, according to the arbitration decisions.
Wynn’s offer to Boston reiterates the company’s previous commitment to make about $5 million in road improvements in Boston, as part of a larger transportation plan refined through the state’s environmental review of the project. The company has said the road improvements would offset the effects of additional traffic created by the resort.
The offer also includes a one-time payment of $250,000 and annual payment of $1 million for transportation, and a one-time payment of $750,000 and annual payment of $1 million for public safety.
Wynn has proposed a water shuttle service connecting the casino to downtown Boston and the seaport and offered to pay the city $250,000 annually for costs related to the program.
The company offered $350,000 a year to support Charlestown cultural events and nonprofit agencies.
Wynn would also use “good faith efforts” to spend at least $15 million a year buying goods and services from Boston businesses, according to the offer.
The gambling commission is scheduled to choose the winning project in September.