Revere and Everett are now the battleground in a competition between two Las Vegas titans for the sole resort casino license available in Eastern Massachusetts.
Wynn Resorts, whose founder built the epic Mirage on the Vegas strip, has an option to buy a 37-acre parcel in Everett to build its own billion-dollar resort on the Mystic River.
Developers have until Tuesday to submit an application for a 15-year license, accompanied by a $400,000 nonrefundable fee, to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The five-member panel can award up to three licenses in the Bay State, but only one is available in the lucrative Greater Boston market.
Residents of the two blue-collar cities will get to decide in a local referendum whether they want a casino development in their community.
“I will campaign against it,” said Evmorphia Stratis, 60, an artist who lives near Everett Square. “Casinos have a very negative effect on a community. Why aren’t they trying to get a high-tech or alternative-energy company on that site?”
“I support it basically for our tax base,” said William Frederick, 61, a retired postal employee who owns two homes in Everett. “If Steve Wynn moves in here, I know we’re going to get a whole chunk of money.”
Revere residents seem equally at odds about the value of a casino in their city.
“If it goes in at Suffolk Downs, we’ll probably move,” said Gail O’Brien, 63, a 40-year homeowner in Beachmont, the Revere neighborhood where part of Suffolk Downs is located. “I don’t want to deal with the traffic, or the types of people who follow a casino.”
“I think it’s good for the community,” said Francisco Lizardo, 60, who moved to Revere two years ago from East Boston. “It’s going to bring a lot of work. You need that in these times.”
“There will not be a casino in any community that does not want one,” Crosby said.
Meanwhile, those with high stakes in the turf war continue to make their arguments.
“We always anticipated there would be competition for this license,” said Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer at Suffolk Downs. “We’ve always known that in order to earn the license, we’re going to have to [submit] a proposal that sets the standard for gaming development in Massachusetts.”
In an interview, Wynn said he plans to build a hotel tower, with 300 to 500 rooms. Upscale shops, restaurants, a spa, and meeting space will be included, he said.
“It will be a first-class, high-rise hotel,” Wynn said, speaking by phone from his home in Sun Valley, Idaho. “We have the experience and capital to build it. I want it to become one of the top hotels in the Boston area.”
Wynn first proposed teaming with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to build a casino across Route 1 from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, but he withdrew the proposal amid fierce community opposition.
But Everett so far has welcomed him, Wynn said.
“I sort of felt, after Foxborough, that it would be an uphill battle to find another [community]. But the feeling we got from Everett is that they have a real strong desire for us to go there.”
The casino mogul is no stranger to the North Shore. His father, Michael Wynn, grew up with a foster family in Revere. His mother, Selma Cutner, grew up in a four-family home at 11 Dana St.
“I used to play stickball in the street,” recalled Wynn, 70. “I’d go swimming at Revere Beach with my grandmother. The water was cold. I loved playing in the arcades and all the rides.”
Wynn, who said he still has family in Revere, said he isn’t miffed that rival Caesars is bidding for a casino there. “Nah,” he said. “I know them all over at Caesars. They’re friends of mine.”
It could take up to a year for the gaming commission to decide which casino operator wins the license, and only after each negotiates a financial package with its host communities — including Revere or Everett — to mitigate the impact of a massive new development.
The state’s nascent casino industry is flush with opportunities. Each development is expected to create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent ones, according to state estimates.Continued...