After losing his bid to get the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to delay awarding a Boston-area casino license until after the November ballot question aimed at repealing the state’s gaming law last week, Mayor Martin Walsh avoided arbitration and is close to inking a surrounding community agreement with Mohegan Sun in neighboring Revere.
While Walsh’s press secretary Kate Norton could not comment on the details of the agreement at press time Tuesday, others said rumors were floating around City Hall Tuesday afternoon that the agreement is substantial and could be similar to the host community agreement signed by Suffolk Downs and the city last August under former Mayor Thomas Menino.
In that agreement the City was projected to get $52 million in annual payments – payments that include property taxes and impact fees – if the casino reaches its goal of $1 billion in gross gaming revenues.
Most important to Eastie at the time was an additional one-time community payment of $33.4 million that was negotiated and would go directly to Eastie for use in projects that included;
• improvement to the Umana School
• the formation of an East Boston Neighborhood Business Program
• construction of a state-of-the-art youth and senior citizen community center
• improvements to LoPresti and Noyes Park.
Additionally, to continue mitigating the impacts of the casino on Eastie, a community trust would have been set up that would receive guaranteed payments of $20 million annually just for Eastie projects.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said while he had not yet seen the details he heard the agreement is far better than what would have come out of arbitration.
“I’ve gone through arbitration in the City Council and it’s not pretty,” said LaMattina. “It sounds to me this agreement will provide for negative impacts a casino in Revere may pose on East Boston. With that said the people of East Boston and the entire state will get a chance to vote in November and we will see then what the people want.”
Repeal the Casino Deal chairman John Ribeiro responded to news reports that Walsh has struck a deal with Mohegan Sun, a deal that would preclude East Boston residents from having a binding vote on the casino project.
“It should come as little surprise that the City of Boston is cutting another deal with the casino industry that is based on dollars and cents, not what is in the clear interests of our capital city, its people and its long-term economic future,” said Ribeiro. “We hoped for more from Mayor Walsh, who knows well the damage addiction has on people, families and communities. The city’s zest for phantom revenue wrapped in cronyism, conflict and corruption in both Revere and Everett, offers daily evidence for why we need to vote yes in November to stop this casino mess. Massachusetts can do better than this.