• Wynn visits Everett to discuss casino


    EVERETT (AP) - Las Vegas gambling mogul Steve Wynn, rebuffed in his earlier effort to develop a resort casino near the home of the New England Patriots, returned to Massachusetts on Wednesday to visit a new potential site along the banks of the Mystic River.

    "We hope to go further with this process and maybe become part of the community in Everett, if the folks who live here think it's a good idea," Wynn said at a news conference with the city's mayor, Carlo DeMaria, Jr.

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    Wynn says he likes the location of Everett and called it a "natural place" for a great hotel.

    The prospective location of the resort hotel and casino is a 37-acre industrial parcel that was once home to a Monsanto Chemical Co. plant, but is now largely vacant.

    No formal proposal was made and Wynn replied "hopefully," when asked if he would meet a Jan. 15 deadline set by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for preliminary casino applications, accompanied by a $400,000 non-refundable application fee.

    Wynn, whose prominent Las Vegas properties include the Bellagio, The Mirage and Treasure Island, had earlier sought to develop a resort casino in Foxborough on land owned by Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL's Patriots. He abandoned those plans in May after it became clear that public opinion in the town was sharply divided on the casino and selectmen declined to enter into negotiations.

    "Here we have an entirely different kind of setup," Wynn said of Everett, a working-class city of about 41,000 residents just north of Boston.

    Wynn noted that unlike the Foxborough proposal, the site in Everett would not be located in the immediate vicinity of any homes.

    If the plan were to move forward, Wynn would be in competition for the sole eastern Massachusetts casino license with Suffolk Downs and Caesar's Entertainment, which has proposed a $1 billion resort at the East Boston horse track. The state's year-old gambling law allows for up to three resort casinos in different geographical areas.

    Asked what would make his plan superior to the one being offered by Suffolk Downs, Wynn replied: "The developer." He later acknowledged that his answer was self-serving, but cited his track record in establishing world-class resorts.

    "In my business, the development makes the destination," he said. "The kinds of facilities we build become destinations unto themselves."

    Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer for Suffolk Downs, said in a statement that the 77-year-old track was steadfast in its commitment to seeking a casino license and would be a "superior site" because of strong community support and proximity to Boston's Logan International Airport.

    Suffolk Downs also has strong support from two of the state's most powerful politicians, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

    "I'm a developer, not a politician," said Wynn, adding that he expected the gambling commission to judge casino applications on their merits.

    DeMaria promised not to go forward with casino negotiations unless the community was "100 percent" behind it, adding that the project could bring badly-needed jobs to the city.

    "We need another way to bring jobs to Everett, but not casinos," said Evmorphia Stratis, a teacher and lifelong resident of the city.

    "I think casinos bring crime, traffic problems. There are already problems with drugs, alcoholism and prostitution," said Stratis, who pledged to help organize opposition to Wynn.

    Wynn, who has not purchased the property, said the current owners would be responsible for any cleanup of contamination left by the former chemical plant, which discontinued operations in 1983.

    DeMaria conceded that some traffic improvements would be needed if a casino were to be built but said the site was accessible from major roads including Interstate 93, Rt. 1 and Rt. 16. He also envisioned the site on the river being reached by water transportation and noted it was also relatively close to the Boston airport.

    The mayor said he had earlier discussion with Hard Rock International about developing a casino on the site, but that the company had not contacted him since.

    Mayor DeMaria says they are working on a concrete plan to present to the community by the end of January 2013.

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