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Walsh Doubtful Boston Will Reach Host Agreement With Casino Developers

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh does not appear optimistic about the chance of avoiding a hearing with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Thursday over the the city's claim that it should get host community status for two proposed casinos in the region.

Asked about the issue outside the Haynes Early Education Center in Roxbury Wednesday morning, Mayor Walsh said there was a "99 percent" chance the city would not reach a deal with developers before Thursday's commission hearing.

"Probably not," he said. "Not on host community."

The city has been trying to be named a host community, rather than surrounding community, for two proposed casinos — one in Everett and one in Revere. Both host and surrounding communities can negotiate for compensation from developers to mitigate the impacts casinos might have on their communities, but host communities get a vote on whether proposals can move forward.

Last week, Walsh's office convinced the commission to delay its decision on the city's status by one week, implying that it might be able to reach a deal with developers without the commission's input.

But ahead of meetings with Mohegan Sun Wednesday, which has proposed a casino at Suffolk Downs in Revere, Walsh said Wynn Resorts, which has proposed a casino in Everett, had pulled out of negotiations.

"[Wynn] didn't want to meet unless it was regarding a surrounding community, and we're not willing to do that," Walsh said.

Walsh has said he would not rule out a sweetened surrounding community agreement that would still offer compensation to the city, but has repeatedly insisted that his main priority is getting residents a chance to vote on the proposals.

East Boston already rejected the Suffolk Downs plan in an earlier vote — prompting Mohegan Sun to move the proposal to the Revere side of the racetrack. Charlestown residents, who would vote on the proposal in Everett if Boston is deemed a host community, have appeared reticent, citing traffic and safety concerns.

Boston says it deserves host community status for both projects because casino patrons would have to use city roadways, public transportation and Logan Airport to get to either facility.

The gaming commission is scheduled to hear arguments on the matter Thursday morning, and is expected to make its decision shortly thereafter.


Jack Lepiarz Twitter Reporter and Anchor
Jack Lepiarz is a reporter and anchor at WBUR.