Caesars withdraws proposal to build Boston hotel-casino

Caesars Entertainment Corp. withdrew late Friday from a proposal to build a $1 billion hotel-casino in Boston after questions about the company’s suitability were raised by Massachusetts regulators.

The company was building the casino in partnership with the Suffolk Downs racetrack. The track’s ownership group asked Caesars to withdraw from the bid after a meeting with regulators.

In a statement, Caesars, which is licensed in 13 states and operates 10 hotel-casinos on or near the Strip, said the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was setting what it described as unreasonable standards for prospective developers.

“We believe the Commission is attempting to set standards of suitability that are arbitrary, unreasonable and inconsistent with those that exist in every other gaming jurisdiction, ” the company said in a statement. “Following discussions with our partners, and in light of the Commission’s approach as well as our minority stake in this project, Caesars has determined it is in the best interest of the company to focus on our 54 properties around the world as well as other growth opportunities.”

The withdrawal comes a few weeks ahead of a public vote on the proposal.

Suffolk Downs said it would find another casino operator for the project.

The move leaves a proposal by Wynn Resorts Ltd. as the leading candidate for a single casino license in the Boston area. The Wynn proposal is on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett. The Foxwoods Indian tribe is proposing a casino project in Milford.

The state’s 2011 gambling law allows for a resort casino in eastern Massachusetts. The Suffolk Downs proposal with Caesars called for a casino, two hotels, restaurants and horse racing on the 163-acre site near Logan Airport.

The track announced a deal in late August with the city of Boston on details of the proposal. It called for $33.4 million in upfront payments and estimated $52 million in annual revenue going to the city if the casino is built. The agreement also promised at least 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs.

Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter