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Casino talks between Mohegan Sun, Boston officials in limbo

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published June 28. 2014 4:00AM

Mohegan - With the fate of Massachusetts casinos now uncertain, a deadline for the resolution of "surrounding community" talks between the City of Boston and Mohegan Sun, which hopes to build a $1.3 billion resort in Revere, passed Friday without a deal, a sign the negotiations are likely to enter an arbitration phase.

The stalled talks came on the heels of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh's call Thursday for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to delay the awarding of the Greater Boston casino license until after a November referendum aimed at repealing the 2011 law that authorized Bay State casinos. A court decision allowing the referendum to go forward was issued earlier this week.

Mohegan is vying for the Greater Boston license with Wynn Resorts, which has proposed a $1.6 billion project in Everett.

Mitchell Etess, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's chief executive officer, declined Friday to discuss the status of Mohegan Sun's talks with Boston officials. On Thursday, Mohegan Sun strongly objected to Walsh's request that the license award by delayed.

The commission announced Friday that it will meet Wednesday to consider the request.

"We are shocked and extremely disappointed with the announcement by the City of Boston …" Mohegan Sun said in a statement. "We have been fully cooperative with Mayor Walsh's administration and (are) negotiating in good faith with the city to agree on a surrounding community agreement that would fully mitigate any issues relative to our project and create thousands of jobs, spur economic development in the region, and inject much needed revenue into local and state budgets.

"We believe the commission should continue on its current time frame for awarding a license and stand ready to continue productive discussions with the city. Two licenses have already been awarded and there is absolutely no reason not to continue fulfilling the promise of this landmark legislation."

The City of Boston filed a motion Friday requesting the commission "immediately stay all proceedings" related to the Greater Boston license. The city argued that it would spend considerable amounts negotiating agreements with Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts, agreements that could be rendered moot by the referendum.

"Recent reports have shown that support for expanded gambling has waned since the enactment of the Enhanced Gaming Act, making it likely that expanded gaming will be repealed," city attorneys wrote.

According to the city's motion, Wynn Resorts filed notice Thursday of its intent to enter into arbitration with the city. Wynn intends to submit its "best and final offer" for a surrounding community agreement next week.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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