The fight is over. Finally.
On Thursday, gambling regulators in the state of Massachusetts unanimously approved the deal between the city of Boston and Wynn Resorts, closing the books on the city’s bitter fight over the Las Vegas casino giant’s $1.7 billion casino project in Everett.
The deal will see Wynn compensate the city for traffic and other expected problems associated with the casino to the north of Boston in exchange for Boston City Mayor Martin Walsh agreeing to stop filing lawsuits against the casino operator.
The regulators’ approval of the deal clears one of the major hurdles for Wynn Resorts, which has scheduled to open the Everett casino in late 2018.
Wynn Resorts general counsel Jacqui Krum told WWLP.com: “It’s been a long road. We’re anxious to get this project going.”
Back in 2014, Wynn beat rivals Mohegan Sun and racetrack operator Suffolk Downs to the license to operate a casino in the Everett. As part of the deal, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission instructed Wynn to pay Boston $1 million upfront plus $1.6 million per year over a 15-year period to mitigate the casino-related problems, plus another $25 million for a fund that will address traffic bottlenecks in Sullivan Square.
Walsh, however, had other ideas. The Boston mayor believed Wynn should match Mohegan’s offer of $30 million lump sum plus $18 million per year to reflect the city’s status as “host community.” Wynn counteroffered with a $6 million upfront plus $2.6 million per year, which Walsh categorically rejected.
The mayor’s unwillingness to negotiate prompted MGC to strip Boston of its “surrounding community” status, which, in turn, prompted Walsh to release the legal kraken.
Two years later, the two parties reached a deal that will have Wynn add an extra $400,000 to the annual payment and another $750,000 to help defray the estimated $1.9 million legal tab the city ran up. In exchange, the city will scrap a clause of the original deal that could have slapped a $20 million surcharge on Wynn if the traffic situation breached certain benchmarks.
However, Wynn is still facing lawsuits by the cities of Somerville and Revere.
In a statement to WWLP, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone spokeswoman said “the city has serious and valid concerns that have not yet been properly assessed or addressed.”
Michael Weaver, spokesman for Wynn Resorts, told the news outlet they aren’t concerned that the other lawsuits will cause another delay for the project. The casino operator is still waiting to have the environmental permits finalized before it breaks ground on the Everett casino this spring.