Boston, Mohegan Sun Reach Community Deal

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has signed a surrounding community agreement with Mohegan Sun, as the gambling company seeks the sole casino license in the region.

Under terms of the deal, revealed Thursday, Mohegan Sun would provide an estimated $300 million in investments in Boston over a 15-year period, according to a city release.

Walsh had sought host community status for the casino proposal, which would have given East Boston residents a binding vote on Mohegan Sun's plan for the gambling facility at Suffolk Downs in Revere. The racetrack is partly in East Boston.

But the state gaming commission denied Walsh's bid to be considered a host community.

Walsh had said he could have sued seeking host status, but instead decided to negotiate.

“This was a difficult decision, but I have a responsibility as the Mayor of Boston to protect the best interests of our City, and of those in the neighborhood most impacted by this proposal,” Walsh said in a statement Thursday. “Mohegan Sun has engaged fully with our team and with this City, with a clear intent to be a good neighbor to our community."

In a separate statement, Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess called the deal a "major milestone."

Under the agreement, Mohegan Sun would invest $45 million in transportation improvements to Boston and the area around Suffolk Downs. The city would receive $30 million over 10 years for capital projects in East Boston, and at least $18 million annually in community mitigation payments, depending on gross gaming revenue.

Should its casino be OK'd, Mohegan Sun also pledged to use local vendors for goods and services, according to the city release, and to give preference to Eastie residents when hiring.

As WBUR's Curt Nickisch reported Wednesday:

The money is the highest amount negotiated by any city or town surrounding a proposed casino municipality. But it’s still less than a previous proposal that would have put a casino partly within Boston’s border.

That host community deal would have paid Boston some $52 million in annual revenue.

According to its statement, Mohegan Sun said it "now has agreements in place with all of its host and surrounding communities." That's 12 in total.

There's another casino proposal in the region. Wynn Resorts has a plan for a facility in Everett, on the banks of the Mystic River.

Walsh had also sought host status for that proposal, but was denied in the same gaming commission ruling. Boston and Wynn are expected to go to arbitration to resolve their surrounding community agreement.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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