Ring the bell, because the gloves are coming off! The Massachusetts gambling scene just took another step toward an eventual, epic conclusion. The dispute between Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and casino mogul Steve Wynn regarding the construction of a new $1.7-billion hotel and casino resort in Everett, Massachusetts, continued to pick up steam this week, as the Wynn Resorts Chairman stated that he’d had enough of the Boston Mayor and cannot negotiate with him. Furthermore, Wynn reportedly went so far as to call the mayor irresponsible following their latest spat.]
For followers of the Massachusetts casino scene, this argument is nothing new. The two public figures have been bickering since 2014, when the state’s gaming commission awarded Wynn the Boston-area casino license. Shortly after, the Boston mayor fired the first shot by attempting to prevent the Everett casino from being built.
The problems arise from the impact the planned casino will have on nearby Charlestown and Boston. Because of Everett’s close proximity, Walsh suggests that the two jurisdictions should also be considered host communities, which would allow them to vote on the casino in the future. The mayor’s primary concern seems to stem from the traffic impact of the upcoming casino. According to city officials, the new casino could cause some serious traffic issues in the short-term, as people will need to cut through neighborhoods in order to avoid the congestion surrounding Sullivan Square.
“There’s going to be a large impact on the people of Charlestown with Sullivan Square and traffic and Rutherford Avenue,” Walsh stated in a news release. “People are going to be cutting through the community of Charlestown to try to beat Sullivan Square because of the problem that it is today. And they do it right now, without a casino.”
Wynn, on the other hand, is having no part of a potential Charlestown vote. According to Walsh, when asked about the possibility Wynn said that such vote would only be held over his dead body. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission already considers Boston a surrounding community to the upcoming Everett casino, but Boston refused to take part in the negotiation process in 2014. As a result, additional costs cannot be renegotiated outside of the original deal without the approval of the remaining surrounding communities.
Following last year’s negotiations, Wynn Resorts was required to pay $35.9 million for improvements to Sullivan Square and an additional $25 million for other mitigation costs. Additionally, the deal includes up to $20 million in penalties if the casino developer’s traffic solutions fail to meet the mark. For Boston, however, refusing to take part in the negotiation process has severely limited the city’s options moving forward.
Despite the dust ups, the Everett Wynn is currently on track to meet its 2018 opening date. For citizens of the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, there may be a bit more traffic than usual, but the added tax benefits and economic advantages provided by the resort will likely more than make up for the inconvenience and delay.