Walsh reviewing options after casino 'host' designation shot down

By 
Matt Murphy, State House News Service
May. 10, 2014

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh met with city attorneys Friday to discuss next steps after the state gambling commission denied “host community” status to the city of Boston, which abuts potential casino sites in Revere and Everett.

“Based on the ambiguous and arbitrary process the Gaming Commission has pursued, we believe that we have multiple options available to us at this time,” Walsh said in a statement Friday. “We are continuing to work aggressively to determine the appropriate action to continue our fight for the people of Boston. My position has not changed: Boston is a host community to both sites, and the people of Boston -- of Charlestown and East Boston -- deserve the opportunity to vote and have their voices heard.”

Options include appealing the decision, filing a lawsuit or negotiating a surrounding community agreement, among others. Walsh, in statements and interviews with reporters, has ramped up his criticism of the commission.

Rep. Carlo Basile, an East Boston Democrat, also expressed his disappointment with the commission’s decision, saying the commission chose “to take an action that will deny my constituents a seat at the table and a vote on a casino that is right in our back yard.” Mohegan Sun has joined Suffolk Downs, which straddles East Boston and Revere, in a bid to build a casino on the Revere side of the racetrack’s grounds.

“We remain committed to continuing the productive discussions we’ve had with the City of Boston, and to reaching a comprehensive surrounding community agreement, as we have with eight other neighboring communities,” Mitchell Etess, CEO of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said in his own statement. “We also look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Gaming Commission and demonstrating that Mohegan Sun is the best choice for Massachusetts.”

Wynn is seeking to build a casino in Everett.

The commission plans to review its 4 to 0 decision and issue a written decision at a public meeting next Thursday.

“The legislature defined surrounding community by impacts and access to the gaming establishment,” the commission said on its website after the decision. “The Commission is bound by these definitions.”

Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby recused himself from the Thursday afternoon vote and from deciding who gets the casino license in the greater Boston area after questions surfaced about his attendance of a party at Suffolk Downs and his prior relationship with a co-owner of the Everett site.