Chelsea is less than a mile from both casino proposals – 0.7 miles to be exact – but while the Mohegan Sun project in Revere has recognized the impacts Chelsea will have, the Wynn project in Everett has had no such understanding of the situation
On Tuesday evening, both Chelsea and Wynn filed for arbitration with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) regarding a surrounding community agreement (SCA).
“All along, I have said that I do not believe that negative impacts from the casino, wherever it is, are inevitable, so long as we have the right mitigation plan in place. I feel like that plan exists with Mohegan Sun, but is non-existent with Wynn at this time. We’ll look forward to the arbitration process to state our strong case that negative impacts are very likely without the appropriate level of programs and personnel to get ahead of those impacts,” said Ash.
Representatives for Wynn Resorts were not immediately available for comment on the Chelsea SCA matter.
The arbitration process was established by the MGC and is certainly not anything new for the statewide process. Several communities have also filed for arbitration with the various applicants for the slots license, previoulsy, and the casino licenses at the moment. Final best offers were due for all SCAs on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Both Chelsea and Wynn submitted those offers by the deadline.
Under the process, an arbiter cannot come to a compromise or split the middle. He or she can only choose one best offer or the other.
Numbers were not immediately available, but sources indicated Chelsea was looking for more money than Malden ($1 million) and less money than the Chelsea SCA with Mohegan Sun ($2.5 million). However, other sources said Wynn had offered less than $1 million – perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of $700,000.
Chelsea and Wynn have been at odds for some time on impacts that Chelsea would potentially experience, despite the relatively close proximity to the Wynn proposal.
In fact, at first, Wynn did not even classify Chelsea as a surrounding community. Ash said negotiations have been cordial, but agreement on the issues is very far away.
“I would characterize my negotiations with Wynn as cordial, but we are very far apart on potential impacts and therefore potential mitigation,” said Ash. “You will recall that the original submission by Wynn to the Gaming Commission did not even recognize Chelsea as a surrounding community. It was not until I formally objected to the submission and lack of recognition that Wynn then acknowledged that Chelsea is a surrounding community. We have not agreed on much else since then.”
In insider circles, some believe that Chelsea’s record setting SCA with Mohegan and Ash’s endorsement of Mohegan over Wynn might have something to do with the lukewarm reception from Wynn. Ash has long believed that Wynn’s project would have far more impacts than Mohegan’s.
Wynn is known to play hardball with surrounding communities in a way that Mohegan has largely not – though tensions have arisen between Mohegan and some communities, including Winthrop.
Wynn is also known to pay careful attention to every single detail – from the pictures of him used in newspapers to the color of the carpet pattern at community meetings. So, it is unlikely that the relationship between Mohegan and Chelsea would have escaped him.
Last week, while Chelsea struggled with Wynn, other communities like Lynn Medford, Cambridge and others inked SCAs with Wynn.
Malden has already secured an agreement with Wynn some time ago.
“I look forward to the vitality a resort casino can bring to a region, but want to make sure we address the negatives that sometimes can come with such a development,” said Ash. “Preventing crime is paramount, as is having a solid plan in place to address social consequences, like addiction, domestic violence and poor school performance. I’ll continue fighting for all that I believe Chelsea deserves, and we’ll continue to do all we can to make sure that whichever operator is selected is being responsive to our local needs and concerns.”
A hearing on the arbitration between the two is expected some time in mid-May