If Wynn Resorts builds a casino in Everett, neighboring Malden will receive at least $1 million a year and its residents will be given preferential treatment if they apply for jobs at the resort.
The pact between Malden and Wynn, which was reached last week, is part of the application process for any company that wants to build a casino. In the complicated language built into the law that legalized casino gambling in the state in 2011, a provision exists that allows municipalities that border cities where casinos are located to negotiate surrounding community agreements.
“It wasn’t a matter of whether or not we support the concept of gaming,;it was a matter of protecting the city from any potential impact regarding the development,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson , who plans to sign the contract with Wynn later this week.
With the final choice of the sole Greater Boston-area casino set to be made by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in April, Wynn’s proposal for Everett is competing against Suffolk Downs in East Boston and Revere, and a Foxwoods project in Milford. If Wynn is awarded the license, Malden would receive a $1 million upfront payment for public safety funding and infrastructure and beautification improvements, and annual payments of $1 million during the first five years of the casino’s operation. Beginning in the sixth year, the payments would exceed $1.2 million, and then grow by 2.5 percent annually.
Wynn is also negotiating surrounding community agreements with Chelsea and Medford. Suffolk Downs is negotiating with Chelsea, Medford, and Winthrop.
‘It wasn’t a matter of whether or not we support the concept of gaming, it was a matter of protecting the city from any potential impact regarding the development.’
If communities are unable to come to terms with the applicants, the state’s gaming commission would step in to complete the negotiations within three months. Still, with the casino license set to be awarded in the spring, most community officials want a deal in place by December.
“I’m in negotiations with both [Wynn and Suffolk Downs] right now, and I would say I am not close to an agreement with either one right now,” said Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash.
Ash, a casino proponent, said creation of 4,000 jobs and the infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure spending would help boost the area’s economy. Still, he acknowledged that Chelsea — which sits between Suffolk Downs and the Wynn site — could see an increase in crime, prostitution, and other problems associated with gambling if it does not get enough funding to bolster its police force.
In Medford, Mayor Michael J. McGlynn also said he is not close to a surrounding community agreement with Wynn or Suffolk Downs. McGlynn said the greatest effect on the city would be increased traffic at Wellington Circle, where there are more than a dozen access points from different roads. He wants the applicants to help pay for a $100 million underpass to keep any additional traffic flowing.
“I don’t believe either one of the casinos are quick to jump on a $100 million proposal, but it’s a proposal that will bring the traffic safely to their venues,” said McGlynn.
Winthrop Town Manager Jim McKenna said the town is not close to signing a surrounding community agreement with Suffolk Downs. McKenna said a casino at the horse track could bring new residents to the densely packed town, which could increase everything from school enrollment to public safety calls.
While Somerville sits across the Mystic River from the proposed Wynn site in Everett and borders Boston, it has chosen not to begin talks with Wynn or Suffolk Downs.
“While we’re not currently negotiating, we’re not ruling anything out. We’re leaving all of our options on the table,” said Dan DeMaina, a spokesman for Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.
Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo also has declined to negotiate with Wynn. Rizzo spokesman Miles Kennedy said city officials are focusing on the upcoming Nov. 5 referendum, where residents will approve or reject a proposed casino at Suffolk Downs. The racetrack is scrambling for a casino management partner after Caesars Entertainment was asked to withdraw because it was unlikely to pass the mandatory background check.
“We’re going full tilt through November to try and educate people about the host community agreement,” said Kennedy.
As the application process has unfolded during the last 18 months, host communities under the gambling law have been able to negotiate potentially lucrative contracts with casino companies. While Revere voters will decide whether to approve a potential casino on Nov. 5 and Everett approved a binding referendum on June 22, each city is poised to increase its revenue if it hosts a resort casino.
The Everett contract calls for Wynn to give the city a $30 million community enhancement bonus prior to opening and also make annual payments of $25.2 million. With more than 4,000 permanent and 3,700 construction jobs slated to be created, Wynn also has agreed to give Everett residents first hiring preference.
If Suffolk Downs wins the casino license, Revere would receive about $15 million annually. Suffolk Downs also has committed to spending $7.5 million a year at Revere businesses.