Could the Greater Boston area be on the verge of getting a casino? A “helpful meeting” between Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and casino mogul Steve Wynn has spurred some optimism. The get-together comes on the heels of an important ruling last week when a Suffolk Superior judge dismissed the City of Boston’s lawsuit to stop the $1.7 billion casino development.
The casino itself won’t technically be in Boston proper but it will be in the Greater Boston area. It’s expected to be on the waterfront of neighboring Everett, which is just a short drive from downtown Boston. Wynn had previously beat out Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs race track to earn the sole license for Greater Boston.
The meeting between Walsh and Wynn lasted for about an hour and while they didn’t come to any formal agreement, it was deemed as a step in the right direction. The fact that the two met in a productive environment to work together instead of a courtroom to go head-to-head was already a positive.
Wynn has been hoping to find a partner rather than an opponent after winning the license but he’s found it to be tough sledding so far. Walsh and the City of Boston alleged that Wynn earned the license through a corrupt process and then tried to stop the development via the courts, claiming that the new casino would have negatively impacted traffic, the environment and public safety.
However, Judge Janet L. Saunders saw differently and handed a verdict in Wynn’s favor.
There appears to be more at play here than just the city’s disagreement with a casino or gaming in general. Mayor Walsh had a deal in place with Mohegan Sun and the owners of Suffolk Down race track that paid the city $30 million in the first year and $18 million annually thereafter. However, the Gaming Commission opted to hand Wynn the license instead even though he only offered a one-time payment of $6 million and $2 million thereafter.
It’ll be interesting to watch the relationship between Wynn and Walsh in the coming weeks after the “helpful meeting”. It’s unclear if Walsh is ready to play ball and be a partner with Wynn or whether he’s going to continue to impede the process.