You may have seen Sunday’s Globe editorial advocating for a Wynn casino in Everett. This is a response to that story.
By and large, the Globe Editorial Board has ignored its own reporting. Their editorial is filled with spin and misinformation easily disputed by Massachusetts’ groundbreaking Gaming Act and the gaming applications. Consider these facts:
•The editorial board touts Wynn’s cleanup of the severely contaminated former Monsanto Chemical plant site – a site that many environmental experts believe cannot be cleaned for human habitation. They also fail to note that Wynn’s team has yet to file a cleanup plan, repeatedly asked for extensions to deadlines, has sought a 250 percent increase in allowable arsenic and lead in the soil, and admits that much of the site will not be suitable for human occupation.
•The board completely ignores the economic centerpiece of the Gaming Act – integrating the resort into the regional tourism, hospitality, entertainment and convention businesses. Wynn proposes a typical Las Vegas four-walled casino model that keeps customers onsite, while Mohegan Sun has created a first-in-the-nation outward facing economic model that integrates its business into regional businesses. Through its Momentum Points Program, Mohegan Sun would infuse $40 to $60 million each and every year into over 400 local businesses. Furthermore, the board ignores the fact that Mohegan is the only applicant to give the Commonwealth written protections against it poaching customers for another facility. The board disregards future economic development opportunities that would be spurred along Revere’s 2 1/2 mile beachfront and across the North Shore in addition to failing to mention the lack of these opportunities in Sullivan Square.
•The Globe Editorial Board trumpets Wynn’s significant cash reserves in Macau. They fail to note, however, that 74 percent of Wynn revenues come from China. They also fail to mention the significant restrictions on international transfers or the fact that Wynn has already pledged these same funds for a project in Asia. Lastly, there is no mention that Wynn’s written commitment to finance a Wynn casino in Everett relies on the same standard market financing as Mohegan.
•The editorial board heralds Wynn’s strong community support in Everett, but ignores the low voter turnout for the referendum election that took place on a Saturday in June. While Everett leadership keeps touting an 88 percent “yes” vote,” the fact is, Revere voters came out twice and both times overwhelmingly supported a casino at Suffolk Downs. Revere had a 44 percent voter turnout on an 18-degree day in February, as opposed to a 22 percent voter turnout in Everett on a sunny June day. Also, they continue to point to an East Boston election where voters rejected a casino in their community last November. They fail to mention well-documented illegal campaign spending and bullying of voters to oppose the local referendum. Further, the election took place just two weeks after the Commission informed Suffolk Downs that its gaming operator, Caesars Entertainment, licensed in 14 states and seven countries, would not be suitable in Massachusetts; and; it ignores the Globe’s own polling which shows overwhelming community support – five to one — in greater Boston for Mohegan’s site, proposal and operation over Wynn’s. Finally, Mohegan received many more “Yes” votes in Revere than total votes cast in Everett: 7,195 compared to 6,153.
•The board criticizes the Gaming Act for protecting thousands of jobs by subsidizing the thoroughbred racetrack, when in fact not one penny goes to the track or its owners – the Racehorse Development Fund goes to horse farms, breeders, and horse owners to encourage open space and agri-business throughout the Commonwealth. The truth is, a vote for Wynn is a vote to put more than 850 people out of work.
•The board ignores the significant difference in approach, detail and financing of community impacts. Mohegan has 13 voluntary agreements contributing a minimum of $52 million annually into local communities and has fully-funded transportation plans that mitigate all measurable impacts. Wynn has only five agreements, two through arbitration, dedicating half this amount and no plans or funds to mitigate significant traffic congestion associated with its project. In fact, the board ignores the substantial concerns about Wynn’s impacts raised by Charlestown residents, the City of Boston, MAPC, DOT and others. In contrast, a numerous and diverse group of elected and appointed officials have praised Mohegan’s mitigation plans.
•The board relies on Wynn’s pitch that he will get Asian gaming “whales” to travel 8,000 miles on an 18-hour flight to gamble in Everett – flying past Las Vegas where he pays only 8 percent in taxes. This story is inconsistent with his own application, which states that he will bring 1,427 “high-rollers” to Everett each year and that these folks will spend a mere $1.8 million in the local economy. Compare this strategy to Mohegan’s proven track record in this area, existing database of customers, and expertise in marketing historic New England.
•The board likewise ignores the findings of an independent group of architects (AIA Boston) that concluded Wynn’s design had “little innovation in any aspect of the exterior design” and that “the entire Everett proposal be redesigned.” They state that “the design does not produce a destination ‘feel’ or draw for the public or tourism.” An independent group of Philadelphia architects made similar comments when Wynn attempted to sell the same cookie-cutter designs there.
•The editorial board ignores Wynn’s lack of transparency and community engagement, absence of detailed plans and written commitments, and his refusal to accept the terms of the Gaming Act. The Globe editorial board would be more honest with its readers by stating that it does not want to see a resort-style casino built in eastern Massachusetts, rather than encourage a license for an applicant with a track record of dramatically over promising and then disappearing.
The more people know the truth, the more they like Mohegan Sun’s plan.
Dan Rizzo is the Mayor of Revere.