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Wynn Resorts appears to have a strong advantage over Mohegan Sun in the fierce competition for the Boston-area casino license, even as the Las Vegas gambling giant pushes back against specific changes to its proposal that state regulators have requested.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has rated Wynn's $1.6 billion resort casino plan for a former chemical plant in Everett higher than Mohegan Sun's in a number of critical categories as it prepares to award the lucrative gambling license sometime this week. Financing and economic development potential are among those key categories.
The commission will continue deliberations Tuesday on picking the license winner.
Overall, Wynn's project has won high marks in the commission's monthlong review largely on the strength of its financial balance sheet, its reputation as a premier gambling company and its vision of a luxury resort. Commissioners also believe its appeal to a wealthy international clientele could leverage Boston's reputation as a tourist destination to create greater economic activity in the region.
In contrast, Mohegan Sun's plan for the Suffolk Downs horse racing track in Revere has been dinged for being a comparatively less ambitious facility that's more focused on drawing Boston-area residents and not encroaching on the customer base of its Connecticut casino.
Still Wynn, in a letter released Monday, pushed back against the panel's request to consider redesigning its 27-story glass hotel tower, which commission members have judged too generic.
"There is no doubt that a glass curtain wall allowing from floor to ceiling wall to wall glass that looks upon the Mystic River and the Boston skyline is the most attractive solution for the guest experience," it wrote in a lengthy defense of its hotel design.
The casino, in a follow-up email to the commission, said it will propose alternative designs, as the panel wants.
In another key area, Wynn submitted a revised plan to pay more toward area traffic improvements, especially in nearby Sullivan Square in Boston. It's not clear, though, if those changes would be sufficient to allay regulators concerns.
In contrast, Mohegan Sun said in a letter to the commission that it has secured $100 million more in equity for its proposed casino at the Suffolk Downs horse racing track in Revere, as the commission requested last week.
Commission members have voiced concerns that the project, which the casino company bills as costing $1.1 billion, is too highly leveraged and called for a significant share of its spending to go toward non-construction costs such as financing.
Regulators also are concerned that Mohegan Sun declined to commit to marketing the Revere casino in Connecticut, where its flagship casino is located.
Instead, Mohegan Sun proposes expanding its marketing efforts to Maine and to honor any gambling promotions from its other casino properties at the Revere resort.
This article was originally published on September 15, 2014.
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