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An expert on gaming in the Northeast believes Mohegan Sun's "surrounding community" agreement with the City of Boston may give the casino operator and its $1.3 billion Revere, Mass., project an edge in the two-way race for the coveted Greater Boston casino license.
"I think it puts them a little bit ahead at this point," said Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Mohegan Sun and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Thursday that they had come to terms on a deal guaranteeing Boston at least $300 million in payments over a 15-year period if Mohegan Sun wins the license.
Wynn Resorts, which has proposed a casino in Everett, failed to negotiate an agreement with Boston, instead submitting its final offer to arbitrators. Walsh, however, has declined to participate in arbitration with Wynn, The Associated Press reported.
Barrow said the relative "generosity" of the casino operators' agreements with the city would be a factor in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission's awarding of the Greater Boston license. "But it's just one component of a very complicated decision-making process," he said.
Mohegan Sun's agreement with Boston calls for annual payments to the city of at least $18 million as well as $30 million for capital projects in East Boston, the neighborhood abutting the Revere casino site at the Suffolk Downs thoroughbred track. Another $45 million in transportation improvements also would benefit the city.
Walsh reportedly said Wynn had offered Boston just $600,000 in annual payments.
"Boston did very well for itself from what I understand," Barrow said prior to the public announcement of the agreement with the city. "They got everything they would have gotten as a 'host community,' with the exception of property taxes on the casino itself."
Walsh contended that Boston should have been deemed a host community in the case of the Revere and Everett proposals since both projects would have significant impacts on Boston's infrastructure. The gaming commission disagreed.
Barrow said the commission may look more favorably on Mohegan Sun's settlement with Boston because it was achieved through negotiation rather than imposed by an arbitrator.
"From a legal standpoint, it doesn't matter, but from a political standpoint, the commission may take it into consideration," Barrow said.