BOSTON — The Massachusetts Gaming Commission stripped Boston of its status as a surrounding community for the planned Wynn Resorts casino in Everett.
The commission made the decision after receiving advice from its legal counsel during an open meeting on Thursday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Deputy General Counsel Todd Grossman told the commission that Boston's refusal to enter into arbitration with Wynn and participate in the process meant, according to the state gaming law, that the city was waiving its surrounding community status.
"We sent them a letter last week reminding them of the consequences of electing not to participate in the surrounding community process we set up, we got no response to the letter," said Acting Commission Chairman James McHugh.
McHugh noted that the commission has a number of outstanding requests for information with the city. He said that the city is welcome to participate in any and all
future hearings related to the Wynn casino.
Boston officials said after the city struck a surrounding community agreement with Mohegan Sun in July that negotiations with Wynn were going nowhere and that, in an unprecedented move, the commission would be better suited to decide what the city should receive in terms of mitigation payments.
The commission was initially receptive to the idea but said today that the city's unresponsiveness has made it impossible for them to develop a surrounding community agreement for them.
"It's our obligation to go forward and do the best we can in the absences of their responses and we intend fully to do that," said McHugh.
Video: Gaming Commission explains how it will determine what Boston should receive from WynnActing Gaming Commission Chairman James McHugh explains how and what Boston will receive now that the city has been stripped of its surrounding community status.
The decision by the commission means that the city will not receive funds or mitigations payments through any kind of surrounding community agreement if the eastern Massachusetts license is awarded to Wynn. The commission will determine what, if any, payments Boston should receive from Wynn in the absence of a surrounding community agreement. The commission can impose impact fees and other conditions that could accompany any license awarded to Wynn Resorts.
"We'll make our own decision, they have set they are not interested in participating in the process we have set up to give them a role in making that decision, so we'll do it," said McHugh.
The commission's decision is not permanent as they will be able to apply for surrounding community status again down the road if they choose to do so.
"This is not the kind of door closing exercise that is dispositive of anything but it is an important step to allow us to move forward," said McHugh.
McHugh encouraged the two parties to continue to negotiate in order to come to some kind of agreement.
Video: Marty Walsh blasts the Gaming Commission after it strips Boston of surrounding community statusBoston Mayor Martin J. Walsh ripped the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for its decision to strip Boston of surrounding community status designation.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh blasted the commission when speaking with a group of reporters after an event in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood. Walsh said the decision "shows hows slanted they are towards this industry and not towards the residents of the city of Boston and the actual taxpayers that pay their salary."
Walsh said the commission was abdicating their responsibilities and disputed Commissioner McHugh's claims that the city was being unresponsive.
"Their job was to look out for our interests when we were a surrounding community," said Walsh.
The city is still open to striking some kind of deal with Wynn Resorts.
"I would take a call from the Wynn folks today, I would never put that off the table. In negotiations nothing is ever final," said Walsh.
The commission is expected to award a gaming license for eastern Massachusetts in early September.