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Gaming commission chairman says Everett casino interest good for competition

Posted by Kathy McCabe  November 29, 2012 01:46 PM

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Stephen Crosby, chairman of the state's gaming commission, said developer Steve Wynn's interest in building a casino in Everett could stir competition for the one casino license available in Eastern Massachusetts.

crosphoto.JPG "We've been encouraging competition across the state," Crosby said in a brief interview Wednesday, following his address to the annual meeting of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce in Danvers. "I think the public will be much better served if there is more than one proposal."

He noted that six casino companies are interested in a single license available for Western Massachusetts. But until Wynn came along, a license available for Greater Boston had only drawn interest from a proposal at Suffolk Downs in East Boston.

Crosby said he had not spoken with the Wynn, a Las Vegas casino magnate. But he did speak with local officials in Everett. "We gave them some advice about what the law provides for local communities, their interests," he said.

Wynn is eyeing the former site of a Monsanto chemical plant on the Mystic River. His interest comes after a $1 billion casino proposed for Foxborough, on land owned by Patriots owner Robert Kraft, failed to garner support of Foxborough selectmen.

Wynn, who toured the Everett site on Wednesday, has not said if he will submit an application to the state's five-member gaming commission. But the Globe reported that he also said he would not go forward with a casino unless the host community supported it.

In his speech to the chamber, Crosby said the state's gaming law requires a local referendum to be held before a casino can be licensed.

"There will not be a casino in any community that does not want a casino," Crosby told about 500 business and civic leaders who attended the meeting at Danversport Yacht Club. "There has to be a referendum on an agreement with a casino operator before it gets to us."

The five-member gaming commission is charged with licensing three casinos -- each of which would be located in a region of the state: western, eastern and southeast Massachusetts. Each casino project would create an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 construction jobs, and the same amount of permanent jobs, Crosby said.

The law also requires a developer to sign agreements with cities and towns surrounding the community hosting a casino, Crosby said.

"They don't get a license, until they have a signed agreement with every surrounding community that would be impacted," he said.

But he noted that its unclear what steps, if any, should be taken to mitigate the impact on communities father away from a casino.

"Danvers and this area is pretty far from East Boston and Everett," he said. "But it will impact your residents traveling to and from work, and getting into town. Is that a surrounding community? Should there be some need to mitigate? We'll see about that."

Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe

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