Caesars Entertainment Corp. on Tuesday stepped up the race to operate a single hotel-casino complex in the city of Boston.
The gaming company, in partnership with Suffolk Downs Race Track, signed a host community agreement with city leaders to build a $1 billion development adjacent to the thoroughbred racing facility, which straddles the neighborhood of East Boston and the city of Revere.
Caesars is competing with Wynn Resorts Ltd. for the one casino license Massachusetts gaming officials will be issuing for the eastern part of the state. Wynn wants to develop a $1.2 billion hotel-casino in the town of Everett.
The deal between Caesars and the 78-year-old race track had been in the works since Massachusetts lawmakers approved gaming in 2011.
Caesars Entertainment Chairman Gary Loveman, who lives in the Boston area, said the casino company is now in the business of placing hotel-casinos in urban markets. Caesars recently opened casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati and is building a casino in downtown Baltimore.
“There is really no better place than right next to the (Logan International) Airport and the racetrack,” Loveman told the Review-Journal. “It’s a tremendous destination.”
Loveman said the agreement was a “very important step in the process.”
Under terms of the agreement, the project will provide $52 million in annual revenue to Boston and $33.4 million in upfront payments. The agreement also calls for $45 million in transportation and infrastructure improvements.
The project guarantees 4,000 permanent jobs and 2,500 construction jobs.
“I have said from the start of this process that I wanted three things: A first-class, resort destination casino, an agreement that would benefit the people of East Boston, and a proposal that will be selected by the State Gaming Commission,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement. “We are well on our way to that and more.”
The host community agreement has to be approved by East Boston voters before Suffolk Downs and Caesars can apply to the state gambling commission for the sole eastern Massachusetts casino license. The mayor expects the vote to take place in the next 60 to 90 days.
Because the track is in Revere, a separate host community agreement must be reached with Revere officials. Suffolk Downs was in the final stages of negotiations with Revere, said the track’s principal owner, Joe O’Donnell.
Caesars, which will develop and manage the hotel-casino, said the project would include restaurants and entertainment amenities
The state is allowing three Las Vegas-style casinos: one each in western, eastern and southeastern Massachusetts. The state also is allowing a smaller slot machines-only casino.
MGM Resorts International wants to build an $800 million hotel-casino in the western city of Springfield.
Wynn’s plans were approved by 86 percent of the voters in Everett in June.
Recently, the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission told Wynn and Boston’s mayor to tone down the rhetoric concerning the competition over the Boston-area license.
Because of the proximity of the Everett site to Boston, Menino has questioned whether Wynn might be required to negotiate a host community agreement with his administration, potentially giving the mayor a chance to slow or block the competing plan.
The operators of Connecticut’s Foxwoods casino have proposed a resort casino in Milford, 30 miles west of Boston.
Wynn’s project is slated for a site that once housed a chemical plant.
“I think the difference is that our project is in Boston where you have the greatest capacity to deliver,” Loveman said. “The other is in Everett.”
Caesars operates more than 50 casinos in 13 states. Loveman said the gaming industry’s latest growth has been directed toward urban markets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.