Mass. gambling panel hears casino pitches

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2014 at 5:43 pm •  Published: January 22, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — The two companies competing for the coveted license to operate the only resort casino in greater Boston delivered high-powered presentations to the state gambling commission on Wednesday, with both promising to be the superior choice to create jobs, generate tax revenue and attract tourists from around the world.

Mohegan Sun has applied to build a casino on land owned by Suffolk Downs in Revere, pending a Feb. 25 referendum, while Las Vegas casino operator Steve Wynn has proposed a casino along the Mystic River in Everett. Both locations lie just outside the city of Boston.

"We have the 'wow' that this market wants and what Massachusetts deserves," said Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, during a 90-minute presentation that included charts, videos and architectural models.

Wynn, by contrast, offered a less glitzy and largely unscripted presentation that lasted less than one hour.

"I'm being hard-nosed today because today is not about theater, today is about how we get a destination resort up and running in Massachusetts," said Wynn, who openly mocked the Mohegan Sun proposal as a three-star resort compared to what he said would be a five-star operation if his company wins the license.

Wynn said the hotel rooms in the Everett resort would be nearly twice as large and far more luxurious that the competing proposal. He also sharply criticized Mohegan Sun's architect for a low-rise, "horizontal" design, as opposed to the 19-story high-rise tower he has proposed, saying a "vertical" development is more user friendly for guests — making it easier, for example, for room service to deliver hot breakfasts.

A spokesman for Mohegan Sun later said its primary hotel would be a four-star operation, while another, smaller hotel would be three-star.

Mohegan Sun's Revere-only plan emerged after an earlier proposal by Suffolk Downs, a 78-year-old thoroughbred racetrack, to develop a casino on the Boston-Revere border was rejected last November by voters in the East Boston neighborhood.

Etess acknowledged that the last few months had been a "whirlwind" for the company, which formed a partnership with Suffolk Downs after a failed attempt to develop a casino in the western Massachusetts town of Palmer.