It’s fair to say that the budding casino partnership between Suffolk Downs and Mohegan Sun is a marriage of convenience. Suffolk Downs split with Caesars, its original casino partner, after state regulators raised concerns about indirect links between Caesars and organized crime. And Mohegan Sun originally wanted to run a casino in Palmer, until voters there nixed that idea.
During a press conference earlier today, though, both sides insisted they’re delighted to be collaborating on a proposed casino in Revere.
“Today is actually the beginning of a new story,” Richard Fields, Suffolk Downs’ majority partner, said during a media availability at Revere City Hall. “I want to tell you that we are proud at Suffolk Downs to be part of this new story.”
Mitchell Etess, the CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, may have been even more upbeat.
“You know, I’ve got a really fun job,” Etess mused. “And throughout the course of my employment at Mohegan Sun, I’ve had a chance to do a lot of fun things. But I don’t think anything that I’ve done previously, or been part of previously, can touch the excitement that we feel at Mohegan for being able to part of this project here in Revere.”
The project looks substantially different than it did when Caesars was the proposed developer. While Suffolk Downs would have been the principal owner of that casino, the new partnership calls for Mohegan to own whatever facility is built, with Suffolk Downs acting as a long-term landlord.
The geographical specs have changed, too. Originally, Suffolk Downs wanted to build a casino in Revere and East Boston. Revere voters approved that project earlier this month — but it was revamped after East Boston voters rejected it. Now, the state’s Gaming Commission has to decide if the new, Revere-only plan requires another vote.
Last week on Greater Boston, Gaming Commissioner Steve Crosby suggested that if another vote is required, there may not be sufficient time under the state’s casino-licensing process for one to take place.
At today’s press conference, however, Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle expressed confidence that no Revere re-vote would be necessary.
“We have a valid agreement [with Revere], and we have a valid land-use referendum,” Tuttle said. “By an overwhelming margin … Revere said yes. Revere is very excited about this development opportunity on the Revere portion of this property, so we’re looking forward to moving forward.”
The future of the Suffolk Downs-Mohegan Sun project could be clarified as soon as tomorrow, when the Massachusetts Gaming Commission holds its next meeting.
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