Casino opponents seek to block Wynn Resorts, other proposed casino projects

An organization of casino opponents will take to the streets statewide this weekend in Massachusetts trying to gather enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot next year to repeal the state’s gambling law.

“As I see it this is an 11th hour move, bottom line gambling is here,” Everett City Councilor and Wynn Resorts supporter Michael McLaughlin said in a statement Friday. “I don’t think we as a state should be changing the rules in the middle of the process. I respect that anyone is allowed to put forward a ballot question, but this should have been done more than a year ago.”

Wynn Resorts Ltd. is vying with several other gaming companies to build a casino-resort near Boston. The Las Vegas-based company is looking to build a $1.3 billion resort on the site of a former Monsanto chemical plant in Everett.

The organization, Repeal the Casino Deal, needs about 70,000 certified signatures by Wednesday. John Ribeiro, their chairman, told the Boston Globe that they are nearing that target and should reach their goal as they stand in front of supermarkets this weekend.

McLaughlin is perplexed by the repeal effort. He said 90 percent of Everett supports the planned Wynn resort and “we will work hard to see it come to fruition.”

The state casino law allows for up to three resorts in Massachusetts and one slot parlor. McLaughlin also took a swipe at the state and development official.

“If another developer wanted to invest $1.5 billion and add 4,000 jobs to the community, (they) would bend over backwards to provide tax incentives and grants to attract the jobs and new revenue,” he said.

Separately on Friday, leaders of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe said they were confident a revised casino compact signed Friday by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick would win approval from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which rejected an earlier agreement reached with the state.

The compact won final passage in the Legislature this week and spells out a variety of terms including how much in gambling proceeds Massachusetts would receive should the tribe succeed in its plan to open a resort casino in Taunton.

The state would get 17 percent of gambling revenues if the casino is the only gambling facility in the southeast region, and 21 percent in the unlikely chance it winds up the only casino in the entire state.

In another Bay State development, Massachusetts gambling regulators say a group led by Foxwoods can continue its pursuit of a resort casino in Milford if it lines up the necessary financing and meets several other conditions.

The conditional suitability ruling issued Friday by the state gaming commission follows a hearing in which it was revealed that Crossroads Massachusetts had yet to secure 55 percent of the equity financing for the proposed casino that would be operated by Foxwoods.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @sierotyfeatures on Twitter.

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