STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON MAYOR MARTY WALSH, who is waging a legal battle against state gambling regulators, insisted again on Monday that the state may have to push the reset button on licensing a resort casino in eastern Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission last September awarded the casino license for eastern Massachusetts, also known as “Region A,” to Wynn Resorts, which is seeking to build a casino in Everett.
Walsh is suing the Gaming Commission, arguing the license should be nullified, the existing commissioners should be disqualified, and Boston should be recognized as a host community for the casino because the facility would be accessed through Boston.
The commission chose Wynn over a proposal for a casino in Revere that would have been developed by Mohegan Sun. Walsh reached a deal with Mohegan Sun for payments to deal with the effects of a potential casino, but the mayor has continued to spar with Wynn about traffic improvements and other issues that would affect the city.
“We’re getting pretty close to the point where I think in Region A they might have to look at starting over,” Walsh said during an appearance on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio.”
When co-host Jim Braude noted that Walsh’s lawsuit calls the commission “corrupt,” the mayor demurred and said, “I’ll let my lawyers explain the word ‘corrupt’ in the legal sense.”
Gaming Commission chair Stephen Crosby recently expressed confidence to reporters about the licensing process, saying the commission’s decision to award the license to Wynn will withstand scrutiny.
“We have won every lawsuit that’s been filed against us so far,” Crosby said. “And we are hopeful and I would say confident that that will happen here as well.”
The commission is currently focused on southeastern Massachusetts, or “Region C,” the last region without a licensed casino. A slot parlor is due to open in Plainville on June 24, the first significant expansion of legal gambling in Massachusetts since the state Lottery in 1972.
Braude also asked Walsh about Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s recent comments that Walsh “man up” about a casino coming to Everett.
“Well first of all, the mayor of Everett is doing what he should do, and work for his city, and defend his city,” Walsh said. “And this isn’t an attack on his city. This is a bigger issue than the city of Everett for the city of Boston. So I commend him for the work he’s doing.”
Walsh added, “I’m not going to get into name-calling. I like Carlo, he’s a good guy, he works hard as the mayor, but you know the city of Boston I feel has been treated unfairly in this entire process.”
Walsh said “unanswered questions” remain about the Everett casino and where its “front door” would be — whether the door leads through property owned by the city of Boston or by the city of Everett.
The mayor also pointed to Wynn acquiring MBTA land, next to where it seeks to build its casino, “behind closed doors.”
A land transfer between the MBTA and Wynn Everett was determined to be a violation of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act review, since it occurred before the state’s MEPA review was complete.
The land transaction is now in escrow as Wynn Everett officials re-do their MEPA filing.
Daniel Rizzo, the mayor of Revere and a supporter of the unsuccessful Mohegan Sun proposal, has repeatedly called for an investigation of the land transfer.