People in Everett are celebrating after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission chose the city as the site of the sole Boston-area casino on Tuesday. Commissioners voted to award the license to Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts, a decision that will likely have drastic and immediate consequences for the other city that competed to host the casino – Revere.
For a process that began years ago -- and led to political mudslinging, fancy proposals, public hearings, and more than a hundred gaming commission meetings – it all ended in just seconds, with a low-key announcement.
In a 3-1 vote, the gaming commission gave the casino license to Wynn Resorts. The three commissioners who voted for Wynn said the $1.3 billion proposal from Mogehan Sun to build a casino at Suffolk Downs was good – it’s just that the Wynn Resorts proposal was better. 

Recalling the state legislation that began this process with the goal of economic development, commissioner Gayle Cameron said she couldn’t ignore that Wynn was offering more jobs – 4,000, compared with Mohegan’s estimate of 3,000 jobs.
“The salaries are a third higher for the Wynn team and I think good paying jobs is absolutely a part of this process,” she said.
Earlier, the commission had criticized the design of Wynn’s proposed 27-story glass tower as stale and generic and they thought Wynn wasn’t doing enough to ease traffic congestion in the Sullivan Square area. After initially rejecting both concerns, the Wynn team agreed to consider other designs for the tower, and it offered $20 million over 10 years to improve traffic in Sullivan Square – while stipulating $20 million would be the cap.
That satisfied Cameron:
"And it also demonstrated a willingness to work in a collaborative manner, so that was part of my evaluation,” she said.
Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said Wynn’s financial stability and cash flow were very compelling – they gave him more confidence the casino will weather economic ups and downs and challenges from competition. And Zuniga said Wynn was the city of Everett’s best chance at getting the proposed casino site cleaned up.

“Because of the level of contamination that exists. Because there are very few instances on a project of this magnitude really represents one of those instances of a development that can take enough cash flow to be able to pay for that environmental remediation. So there is a lot of public good that comes out of doing something on this site,” he said.
But that same contamination worried commissioner James McHugh, who wondered what would happen if environmental permits to build on the site didn’t come through.
“What do you do about a very good proposal that has a high risk of not being able to get off the ground?"
McHugh– the lone holdout among his colleagues – also worried that Wynn didn’t have enough support from local communities. While the people of Everett voted overwhelmingly for the casino, Wynn has had tense relations with surrounding communities, and failed to come to an agreement with the city of Boston.
“Ultimately, I have a great concern about whether this project can muster the kind of collaborative energy it needs to move forward. It’s going to take a while. It’s going to take the cooperation of a number of inter-related entities and jurisdictions.”
And Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo asked – why take that chance? Why not go with the site that’s ready to be built on now; why not go with the company that has good local relationships; and why not go with the proposal that could save Suffolk Downs race track from going out of business?
“They decided in this case to go risky versus safe," Rizzo said. "I hope for the sake of the commonwealth and for all of those jobs that we’re going to be losing sometime tomorrow that that choice bodes well for everybody.”
Rizzo said 850 people will lose jobs when Suffolk Downs closes. The 160 acre site is a short distance away from downtown Boston and the airport. Racetrack chief operating officer, Chip Tuttle, said discussions about how to wind down operations in an orderly way would start immediately. He said it was only the hope of a casino in Revere that made the racetrack owners stay open this long.
“It is just impossible for them to continue to do that, especially because of the economics of racing without gaming. And then, you know, it’s a very attractive development property,” Tuttle said.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said some of those unemployed from Suffolk Downs might find jobs in nearby Revere.
"I wanna let you know that you did chose the right applicant, the right city, and it definitely – it’s the right time for the city of Everett,” he said. “You won’t recognize the city of Everett in 10 years, it’ll definitely change. We’ll no longer be the butt end of the city of Boston but we’ll be the entrance to the city of Everett.”
Wynn senior vice president of development Robert DeSalvio said he’s confident environmental permits would come through soon so they can get started on the project.
“And we think with a $1.6 billion investment – the largest private development project in the history of the Commonwealth – that this will really be a great motivator of economic development, job creation and bringing a lot of revenue and repatriating revenue back to the Commonwealth.”
The process of bringing a Wynn Resorts casino to the greater Boston area begins today, as the Wynn team returns to sign on the dotted line of an official agreement.