Wynn Suit Allowed To Proceed in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court last week ruled that a lawsuit brought by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority could proceed, sending it back to a lower court. The suit alleges that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission violated the open public meetings law when it awarded the state’s final casino license in the Boston area to Wynn Resorts for a project in Everett over the Mohegan proposal at the Suffolk Downs racetrack in Revere.
The court’s ruling could result in the nullification of decisions made at the meeting, civil penalties or other remedies. Wynn Resorts said the decision would not impact construction on the property, which is scheduled to open in June 2019.
Kevin Brown, the chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said the ruling affirmed the contention that the process was flawed. Brown’s tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot tribe are currently occupied in a battle to open a third tribal casino in Connecticut to minimize the impact of the looming Massachusetts casinos.
While the Mohegan tribe got the go-ahead to proceed, the court said other parties—the town of Revere and an employee union—to the lawsuit should not be included because they do not have standing.
Because of its promise to the development of at least 54 market-rate housing units in the downtown area of Springfield, near its casino, MGM Springfield is moving to redevelop a six-story building that has lain dormant for years. The target for this building activity is a former hotel one block from the casino site, which MGM plans to turn into apartments.
MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis told reporters last week, “We think 31 Elm Street and Court Square is really a key to downtown Springfield development.” He added, “31 Elm right now is our priority. It is the city's priority. We've agreed to focus our attention there and then we'll look at what is remaining on the commitment.”
MGM is building its $950 million casino resort on14.5 acres. The apartment project would expand that footprint. In a few months MGM is also expected to take over management of the MassMutual center, which is owned by the state. This will allow MGM to offer convention and entertainment in conjunction with its casino.
MGM had originally planned to build apartments within that 14.5 acres, but when it was forced to redesign its project to keep its budget under control the apartments were a casualty.
Recently Massachusetts Gaming Chairman Crosby reminded MGM that it was behind schedule in meeting its housing commitment. “The commitment to housing was one of the critical elements of MGM's casino proposal, so we are not prepared to see any compromises on that commitment,” he said.
The city’s Chief Development Officer, Kevin Kennedy defended MGM, and said it was not to blame for the one month delay. MGM is in final negotiations to acquire the Elm Street property from the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. Declining to discuss details, Kennedy said “The business part of the deal has been agreed to, but you have to memorandum of understanding and a few other things and that is what the lawyers are working on right now.”
Meanwhile, the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor is seeking approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to expand the number of slots, restaurants and bars in the casino resort that it is building in Everett.
The resort, which is looking at a June 2019 opening, is also asking to expand it convention and meeting space. The price of the facility was already on the increase from its original estimated price tag of $2 billion due to increased labor costs. The additions would also mean more jobs created by the resort, a representative of Wynn told the commission.