Casino operator Wynn Resorts and the mayor of Boston are engaging in a serious bout of ‘he said, she said’ over claims of nine-figure payoffs to resolve legal issues.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh (pictured on the left) has never quite gotten over the fact that his city lost out to neighboring Everett in the contest to host Wynn’s new Boston casino. That decision prompted a flurry of legal action, including claims of conflict of interest on the part of state gaming regulators, allegations of shady land deals and demands for financial compensation for the expected congestion on Boston roads that feed into the Everett region.
On Friday, Walsh told local public radio station WGBH that he’d had a phone call two days earlier with Steve Wynn (pictured right) in which the casino mogul offered to cut the city a “nine-figure” check if Walsh would drop his quest to regain Boston’s ‘host community’ status. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) stripped Boston of that status last August, eliminating much of Boston’s right to compensation as well as the city’s ability to hold a vote on whether to permit the casino construction to proceed.
Walsh told WGBH that he’d “sweet talked” Wynn into boosting the offer, but Walsh insisted that the issue was “really not about the money. It’s about allowing the people of [Boston suburb] Charleston a vote.” Walsh said he and Wynn were trying to arrange a sit-down meeting some time after Labor Day to discuss the issue further.
Shortly after Walsh’s interview aired, Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver told the Boston Herald that Steve had “made no offer of additional money to the city of Boston” during his call with Walsh. Weaver said the company had agreed to press the state government to divert some gaming taxes to the city if Boston dropped its legal pursuit of host community status but Weaver was adamant that “no new offer is on the table.”
Weaver noted that Boston had already been awarded “a very thoughtful and generous mitigation plan by the [MGC] after the city repeatedly refused to participate in a process in which it could have negotiated directly” for additional funds. The deal Weaver referred to includes $25m in community mitigation and up to $55m more in mitigation and improvements for the Sullivan Square traffic circle in the Charlestown region.