In the Cards

Gambling panel opens door to June votes on casinos

Insert $1.5 billion casino here? The former Monsanto Chemical site in Everett where Wynn Resorts wants to build a hotel casino.
Insert $1.5 billion casino here? The former Monsanto Chemical site in Everett where Wynn Resorts wants to build a hotel casino. Credit: DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

The state gambling commission is bending its policy that communities must wait to hold referenda on casino projects until the commission completes backgrounds checks on the casino developers.

The board is leaning toward a compromise that would allow communities to vote while the background checks are ongoing, so long as voters are informed about the purpose and the standards of the commission’s investigations into the applicants. The panel will take public comment on the proposed compromise before a formal vote next week, but unless there are some new facts, this looks like a done deal.

At least some of the credit for the commission’s change of heart should go to Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who strongly urged the gambling panel to let his city vote when it is ready — as soon as June. Wynn Resorts is planning a hotel casino on the Mystic River waterfront in Everett, and the mayor says he is nearly done negotiating the terms of the development with Wynn.

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Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has pushed for the right to hold a casino vote as soon as June 25, the date for the special election to fill the US Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry’s resignation to become US secretary of state.

Despite the compromise, most of the local casino votes will probably take place in September or later.

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