Casino deliberations set for next week
The suspense about which company will win the Greater Boston casino license will now stretch into next week.
The state gambling commission will begin its final deliberations of the state’s most lucrative gambling license on Monday, to provide applicants Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts time to respond to conditions the commission has proposed for each developer, if they win the license.
After spending the first two days this week evaluating the rival proposals, the commission spent most of Wednesday finalizing their list of proposed license conditions, designed to address concerns with each application.
The commissioners must decide between Wynn’s proposal, planned for the Mystic River waterfront in Everett, and Mohegan Sun’s casino project at Suffolk Downs racetrack in Revere. The winner will get a resort casino license estimated to be worth more than $700 million a year in gambling revenue.
For Wynn, the major license conditions are related to concerns about traffic in Sullivan Square in Charlestown. The commission has asked Wynn to commit to pay 10 percent of the cost of a long-term fix for the intersection, up to $20 million.
For Mohegan Sun, the commission wants the developer to bring significantly more equity into the development’s financing plan.
The developers have until Friday afternoon to provide written responses to the conditions. They may accept or decline any of the proposals or offer alternatives to address the commission’s concerns.
Declining a proposed condition is not necessarily fatal to an application, though the commission may take the developer’s refusal into account as it weighs the sum of the information on each proposal. The commission has already gathered massive amounts of information about each project, including thousands of pages of documents submitted by each applicant, testimony from many hours of public hearings, and the commission’s extensive category-by-category review of both applicants.
In the commission’s review, made public Monday and Tuesday, Wynn earned the best scores in the finance and economic development categories, and apparently will win the project overview category when the commission assigns a final grade next week.
Mohegan Sun scored higher in the building and design category and in mitigation, which covers each resort’s traffic plan.
“Everything we’ve heard from the applicants is part of the evaluations,” said the commission’s acting chairman for the review, James McHugh. “It’s all part of it.”
One of the first things commissioners will do when they reconvene for final deliberations is to discuss how much weight to give to each category, McHugh said.
The commission’s deliberations will be held in open session and be streamed live on its web page.
Commission chairman Stephen Crosby is not participating in the decision, perhaps the biggest choice the commission will ever make, because of a potential conflict of interest. Crosby’s absence leaves four participating commissioners and raises the possibility of a deadlocked 2-2 vote.
McHugh promised Wednesday there would be no deadlock. The commissioners, he said, have “ruled out a tie; we will not have a tie.”
It is possible the commission will choose a winner next week but not formally award the resort casino license until voters decide a November ballot question that would repeal the state’s 2011 casino law.